Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Saying goodbye is hard but loved ones will always stay in our hearts

By Nuala McKeever

Published 02/07/2013

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela

School's out for summer; Nelson Mandela (at the time of writing this) is on the verge of leaving this earth; Nick Price is closing his Warehouse restaurant in Belfast and Damian Gorman, poet, playwright, unrivalled understander and expresser of what it is to be human, has done his last gig here before leaving to live elsewhere.

Saying goodbye seems to be the flavour of the week.

It's hard to let people go. But they will go, whether you let them or not. The difference is whether you accept the change and adapt to the new shape of things or you don't.

We tend to want to cling on for fear that the in the new shape of things we won't be enough.

When Nelson Mandela was released from prison he made a famous speech, quoting Marianne Williamson.

He said, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us."

So why does it feel as if it's fear of being "not good enough" that holds us back?

A South Africa without Mandela? People quake. It'll be such a huge loss. We feel we won't be enough without him. He was so special.

But Nelson went on to say, "We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in EVERYONE!"

There's nothing he had that isn't there for us too. We can't be him, but we can be great.

The other night I realised that since I was 11 years old and my English teacher consistently wrote, "Nuala has talent but could do better" on my reports, I have carried this banner everywhere I go. I set up my stall in life under "Could Do Better" and then I wonder why I never feel as if I'm good enough. Good enough for what? For whom? And who says?

At the same time I realised that all the stuff I keep in my house from years ago, the suitcase under the spare bed full of letters and diaries and stuff from teenage years, belongs to that girl who "could do better".

But it no longer serves me. It belongs, literally, to who I was then, but it has NOTHING to say about who I am now. Those things are trappings, with the emphasis on "trap". Time to step out of then and into now.

When Nelson goes, we'll be the grown-ups. We don't need to fill the space under the bed with our stuff to keep the bogeyman out. There IS no bogeyman. We are enough.

A life lived "with nothing under the bed". I like that...

I'm burning the stuff that belongs to the girl who "could do better", suitcase and all. I'm literally getting rid of the baggage I've been carrying around for years. I HAVE done better. I do my best. So do you.

So I say goodbye and thank you to the things that helped get me here and hello and welcome to the space that's been created to let in whatever's coming next.

The things and people that matter can't be kept under the bed or on the walls or on the shelves anyway. If they're in your heart, that's enough.

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