Exits & Entrances

It’s that time of year again. Young mothers are leaving their babies to return to work. Kindergartners are loaded down with oversized backpacks as they climb the bus steps. Children impatiently pose for the back-to-school photos. Parents send their kids off to their first day or last first day of high school. College students wave their parents goodbye as they gently push them out the door. Graduates leave the nest to create their own homes with hand-me-down furniture and cheap IKEA lamps. 

But for every goodbye there is an hello. To get through the ache of parting, we must turn it inside out. Look at it from the other perspective. There is a line from Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildentstern are Dead that illustrates this perfectly.

We keep to our usual stuff, more or less, only inside out. We do on stage the things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else.

“Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.” Think about that for a moment and let it sink in. Each door has two sides. We see the exit, but our children get a glimpse of the entrance. A new teacher, an unfamiliar classroom, a good friend, an exciting job, a sparkling beginning full of hope and the promise of starting fresh. 

The goodbyes may never get easier. We hang on a bit longer with each parting, and leave bits of our tender hearts behind. Their childhoods barrel quickly through fast-motion, each stage flying by in warp speed. My actress friend Ann said raising her girl was the, “Shortest, best run of my life.” 

So we take our bows and wave goodbye, and try to remember this is a new show in a different locale where we don’t play a major part. It is the letting go. It is a lesson in leaving. It is excruciatingly beautiful and brilliantly awful. It is life.

It is so hard to leave – until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.

— John Green, Paper Towns

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