In the immortal words of the late, great lyricist Hal David: what’s it all about, Alfie?
All of our major religions address, in some way, shape, or form, the meaning of life. They also attempt to assuage our fears about death; for, if life is only for a little while and then it ends, what’s the point?
To me, the thing that really gets to us is that, in this life, we make connections with one another, and sometimes those connections feel so deep and so profound that we simply cannot fathom that those connections merely end. I think that this is the spring from which hope flows.
To me, hope is the feeling that, although our bodies may cease to exist, whatever it is that one may call what’s inside each of us continues to live on in some way, shape, or form; and so too will our connections between one another live on.
So, we tell ourselves, when we part company, “See you later.” Of course we have no way of knowing whether or not we will see each other “later,” but that’s not the point. The point is that we continually guard against that most lethal of human afflictions: hopelessness. So, what we’re really saying is: “I hope that I’ll see you later.” And the response is basically, “Yea, I hope so, too.”
And I think that this hope extends to everyone we have ever known, even those whose presence in our lives may have caused us pain and anguish. We hope that in some other less earthly realm all of our petty differences and human failings will not matter to one another, and that we will be able to forgive each other. I believe that this is especially true of our most intimate connections. So what we are doing when we part company is promising to one another, through our faith and belief in something we cannot name or describe, that we are not really saying “goodbye,” that, in fact, we never, ever say “goodbye,” only “goodbye, for now.”
To me, this is the ultimate promise that we make to one another, one that I think provides an answer for the question Hal David proposed. Without hope, what indeed is the point of living? But with hope, there’s always a chance, always a possibility, always a reason to see if tomorrow will bring with it something better, something good, something more to hope for. Hope that there will truly be, come what may, NO GOODBYES. I believe that this is the hope of all of us: that we will always meet again. Somewhere. Somehow. Someday. No goodbyes.