Timepieces and the Art of Goodbye

A speech given at my going away party on 18 March 2016 at the Hotel Donaldson. I am posting it today for those who were not able to attend and wanted to see it. Thank you to Robert Jones and Richard Pallay for putting the party together for me, it was an unforgettable experience, and thank you to everyone that attended.

Photography by Louis R. Zurn Photography: View the Album


 

 I’ve garnered a reputation over the last few years of my life of being a man endowed with the gift of words. It’s a gift I’ve learned to cherish and it’s a paradigm that I’ve come to accept. I judge people very carefully on the words they choose to use, and I try to be precise in the words I use and how I put them together. With discretion in mind, I am by no means a scholar of letters, a toastmaster of accord, or a thespian, I am simply a young man who has been lucky enough to have been able to say the right things at the right time. Some of those words come with practice, with the development of a proper theme, and with the application of those themes in debate, public speech, or simple interaction; nevertheless, I’ve managed to be lucky more times than not, so perhaps it’s just better to say that I tend to get lucky with the English language, but with that in mind, there is something I’ve never been able to manage, and that is the art of a proper goodbye.

 The truth of the matter is that all my life, I have been terrible at goodbyes. I hate them. They tear at me, they awaken my inner child nagging at me and piercing my thoughts. They frighten me, they always have. Anyone that knows me well, knows I have a fascination with time, and saying goodbye sometimes means that my time with you will come to an end, definitive or temporary, and that scares the hell out of me. Even the fleeting passage of just a few chapters in a much larger story of life is almost paralyzing to me, a stunning reminder of the passage of time from a living, breathing moment to something far more beautiful and terrifying, a memory.

 I took up the hobby a few years ago of repairing watches and clocks. I love timepieces, and I am equally fascinated with them as I am with the idea of time itself. There is a beautiful art to a proper timepiece, and each piece, though varying in it’s complexity and design, all share the common purpose of measuring time. It’s a beautiful over-complication of watching the same seconds turn into hours, and although the medium doesn’t change, the seconds don’t get longer just as the hours don’t really get shorter; artists have their own interpretation of how it will be done. There is a craft to putting a proper timepiece together, but the end result doesn’t change, the seconds crawl forward and time progresses, and in that consistency there is still beauty and complexity, but most of all, there’s consistency. I’ve come to love the consistency of the craft, it’s something that I can wrap my brain around, knowing that whatever the individual piece in the back of the timepiece is, I know what it’s function is and how to work on it, and even if the piece is beyond repair or my fat fingers screw it up, the watch may stop but time does not. The thing about goodbyes though is that they are an absolute juxtaposition of this consistency.

 Its as if my life were a watch. My jewelry box is full of watches old and new, some of them don’t work anymore for various reasons, broken tooling or dead batteries, or something of the like. You may wonder why I keep them if they don’t function, but to me, they are frozen moments in time. I can remember how I feel when I wore them, when they were fresh and new, the adventures and trials they saw. There is a simple beauty in opening the backs and seeing the pieces just as I remember them. Remembering how they ticked and turned, and remembering how I felt when I wore them, and while I could fix them all, they will never be quite the same to me, new watches have come to take their place, but I keep them all the same, because I love them. All different, but somehow still the same

 I can revel in the workings of my life intertwining with all of you who make up the passing of time just like the pieces of a watch, the slow measure of a life well lived, but like all things, there will come a time when it is spent. Lives change, people change, and while I may not be there to sit and watch it on the dial, it will keep moving without me. The narratives of your own lives will take their turns and they will grow and take new paths, and the selfish part of me wants to be there for every tick, but the reality is that is not the way it can be. This is why I struggle with goodbyes, because at the core of it, I’m selfish. In life, I’ve tried to go where I thought I was needed most, and now I’m being told that I’m needed elsewhere, not forever, but long enough to make an impact, and when we meet again, we will be just like a brand new watch, and when I open up the back, I’ll see a brand new thing, The pieces, while similar to all the others, will not look quite as I remember, they will be brand new but somehow, still the same. I wish I could take the battery out, and just look at the pieces frozen in time just as they are now, because I love how they are, how they fit, how they work, but unfortunately that’s not the way goodbyes work.

 A proper goodbye should be fulfilling, it should capture the way I feel about each and every one of you, but the reality is that no matter how lucky I have been with words, tonight luck is not on my side. I don’t have the words to do it properly. The English language is rich, but not rich enough to adequately explain my love for each and every one of you, and time is not so kind as to stop for me so that I might find the right words to say. I hope that while I’m away, you find peace, that your life might be blessed and that you continue to move forward, onward and upward so that when I come back, it will be just like coming back to my old jewelry box. Tonight, I don’t want to think about what’s to come, what will be, or what the future. I don’t want to think about what’s new, and if you do anything for me let it be this:

 Tonight, I want to be completely selfish, so if you’ll indulge me, let me look at all of you just like a fine timepiece. Tonight, we’ll tell old stories, share old laughs, and love those same old memories, because just like my favorite watches, I want to see those pieces of my life all over again just as I remember them. Young, perhaps young forever, beautiful, each filling an individual space, ticking and ever moving yet consistent, making my life something worth watching, something wonderful, and even though I know I will have to close the lid on that jewelry box and put these memories away for a while, I know that when I open again, I’ll find you all there just as I remember you. I’ll remember how you made me feel, the trials and adventures we faced together, all the things that make all of you who you are and why I love you. All different, but somehow all the same.

 May God bless and keep you, I love you all, and until we meet again,

Thanks for everything….

 

 

 

 

 

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