There are cliches and overused quotes for every occasion in life. In high school, our English teachers would caution us against using cliches in our writing. For starters, they’re sometimes hard to understand for someone who has never heard them before. How do you explain to someone that while an apple a day may help with a balanced diet, but is not the end all be all of keeping the doctor and sickness away.
Secondly, they are an easy way of cheapening the emotion and robbing the true meaning of the moment. These expressions are often overused and by default become trite and frivolous. But, we like them and still use them.
You’ll find cliches and overused quotes lining our Pinterest boards in fancy fonts with chevron backgrounds. Other are frantically scribbled in the backs of yearbooks on the last day of school and in letters written to our closest friends when we graduate high school and college. Sometimes they even round out our social media profiles.
We’ve all heard the following about goodbyes:
- “Don’t cry because its over. Smile because it happened.”
- “Goodbyes are not forever, are not the end; it simply means I’ll miss you until we meet again.”
- “If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello”
Last week, I was finishing up “An Astronaut’s Guide To Life on Earth”, Col. Chris Hadfield’s auto-biography of sorts when something he wrote stuck. (For those of you who may not know about Col. Hadfield, he was the astronaut behind the David Bowie cover of “Space Oddity” filmed in space that has more than 20 million views on Youtube) I pulled out my phone in the middle of the packed restaurant during lunch and snapped a photo of the page to remember the quote.
When Col. Hadfield is asked about retiring from the space program on his return from his position as commander of the ISS by reporters he writes, “Endings don’t have to be emotionally wrenching if you believe you did a good job and you’re prepared to let go.”
Col. Hadfield spent his entire life preparing to be an astronaut. As a young child, he remembers witnessing the moon landing and declaring then and there he was going to be an astronaut, even will the full knowledge that Canada didn’t have a space agency. His entire life was orientated towards that one goal, being in space. At the age of 53, Col. Hadfield has gone to space 3 times, spent a total of 166 days orbiting the earth and 14 hours in space walks.
If he counted success in a different way, he’d writes he’d must certainly be let down. Instead, he viewed very accomplishment as a small success. Life is so much more interesting with a continued presence of small successes and miracles than one huge failure.
It occurred to me the other day, that the best thing we can do when we say goodbye, move on or find ourselves on a different path is to make sure that we’re satisfied with what you you’ve done and how you did it. We are all called to be witnesses to the Gospel and the love of Christ to the world whether through our personal lives, professional opportunities and all of our actions with others no matter how small.
From Paul we hear in Acts 20:24, “My only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.”
That’s better than a “cliche” any day.