Et. al. presents: On Goodbyes



Here we are at last  - my final column for the Empire State Tribune. You’ve read my thoughts on strangers and friends, risk and contentment, tourists and locals, the ordinary and extraordinary, and more, and now it has come to an end.

Finality is a curious thing. When you’re languishing in a mundane class, the end can’t come soon enough. It’s a joy to be freed of the shackles binding you to your seat. But when you’re doing something you really enjoy, the end is a far greater tragedy. We mourn the passing of great experiences.

When I was a young lad, I was only allowed to spend 30 minutes on the internet each day. I planned those minutes meticulously, factoring in the speed of the dial-up connection, how quickly each webpage loaded, and which games loaded fastest. It turned out that I had enough time to play two flash games (sometimes three) on I relished every moment. But once time ran out, stepping away from the computer was agony incarnate.

It would be more relatable, perhaps, to consider the challenges of binge-watching your new favorite show on Netflix (or Hulu or what-have-you). Nothing is as emotionally taxing as finishing another episode only to find that no more remain. Coming to the end of a seasons-long journey with a wonderful show can be a trying experience. The last episode of "30 Rock" was akin to a punch in the gut!

But even though it can be painful to move on, there’s something to be said for reminiscence. Value is not locked in time — my appreciation for "30 Rock" is not limited to those times when I first watched the episodes. I can recall the stories, jokes, and characters that made the experience so valuable in the first place. The same goes for what I’ve done here with the Tribune. Even though I’m about to finish discussing these ideas with you all, I have gleaned much from the experiences that stand the test of time.

For example, I’ve learned that taking time to enjoy my walks through the New York streets can provide moments of rejuvenating peace. I’ve also learned that tourists aren’t the demons I’ve so often made them out to be. I’ve learned that doubt about the future doesn’t own me. I’ve learned that looking up every once in a while instead of locking my eyes onto the sidewalk reveals the beauty of the city, and I’ve learned that taking risks isn’t always such a bad idea.

Through it all, I’ve ultimately come to a better understanding of my own human brokenness. Learning about my shortcomings and searching for ways to ameliorate them can be discouraging. But I do it all in light of a God who encourages me to excel, comforts me when I fail, and loves me either way.

I hope you’ve enjoyed exploring some small part of life with me. As always, thank you for your readership — and enjoy your summer!

- benjamin.