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Human beings have been performing symbolic acts forever. Today we are losing touch with our magic, but we are still wired to recognise symbols, and much of our understanding of things, not to mention our wellbeing and growth, comes to us via concepts that cannot be touched, measured, nor fully understood.

I’m not thinking of voodoo, or daydreaming (though why not the latter?), I’m thinking of finishing something off, healing, getting closure, moving into a new chapter of life.

I knew someone who move 200 miles to live in a new place. It was not her choice to move, but she did it willingly, she said, for family reasons. She then spent two years returning to the place she’d come from, tiring herself out with weekend trips, and distracting her efforts to settle in the new place. She was unhappy, and so was her family. Until a light came on! She had an ‘Aha!’ moment while watching a film.

She said, “I realised I had to say goodbye to the old place. It was so clear that that was what I needed to do.”

So that’s what she did. “I booked a last trip, and I made a point of saying ‘Goodbye’. I said it to all the people who mattered, but most importantly I said it to places. I acknowledged that I was leaving, and said a proper goodbye to the town. I thanked it for all it had done for me (she’d married, had children and started a business while living there), and celebrated the fact that a phase of my life was over and that I was moving into a new one.”

After a period of change or difficulty it is tempting to put it all behind you by ignoring what you’ve been through, distracting yourself by rushing towards the future.

Divorce, redundancy, loss… In order to move on unhindered by the past, we must first acknowledge and honour it. Like it or not, it makes us who we are.

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