By Mike Street
Frank Turner, a wonderfully talented musician with whom I have recently embarked a music-man crush upon, has sung some beautiful songs on his recent album. Those songs range from the most awesome, summery but yet depressing (when you actually listen to the lyrics) to the insanely wonderful. Songs which drip with the pain and heartbreak that is so obviously disguised behind the words. But I digress. Frank Turner wrote a song about having to leave.
Why is it that leaving is such a challenge? Why is it so hard to say goodbye? Even the simplest of things are hard to bid farewell and send on their way.
Humans seem to craft some form of emotional attachment to anything and everything. What is it that makes us fond of some objects, be them alive or inanimate, and happy to abandon others? Birthday cards are a brilliant example - they are nice to receive, they are wonderful to see that someone cares, that someone is thinking of you. But yet, bring on the days or weeks after the celebration of your appearance into this wonderfully mystical but debatably bleak world and you are torn with one of life's hardest decision. Do you keep the cards or discard them?
On one hand, they are a sentiment. They show people care. They show that people's thoughts and minds meandered to your memory for at least 5 minutes (or 23 minutes by the time they've dug out the address book, found your name, realised you're not in there and text you for you address anyway). They took the time to press the end of the biro to the card and they pondered over how many kisses to put. Because of the thought and attention that has gone into sending you a card, it serves as a reminder of who would truly be by your side in the battle of life, those who would honestly be standing in your platoon on D-Day. This is in comparison to the fiends and fakes on your facebook wall only well wishing because their mobile telephonic communicator reminded them of such. Because of the true treasures and feelings bestowed upon the paper and pen, birthday cards should be kept, reminisced upon and treasured - similar to that of a family gun or a mother's bracelet passed from generation to generation.
Birthday cards very rarely contain money anymore, maybe in the infant years of your life they were accompanied by a present (the much more interesting bit) and were merely there as a reminder as to who had forced a hastily wrapped gift upon you that day, or, as you tentatively opened it, a note or a cheque (yes kids, we used to get money in a cheque form) would fall gracefully to the floor and shimmer in the sunlight.
On the other hand, they are mere physical representations of an unspoken alliance between family members and friends. After the anti-climax of opening the envelope and finding that your bank balance is no longer going up (due to the fact that this is not the first, third, fifth or indeed tenth card they have sent you - but rather the twenty fourth), they become stark, unadorned skeletons of the memories and love with which they were sent. The card itself holds no value (after all, you can pop down to Clintons and pick one up for £2.99) but rather the affection and kindness that it was sent with, the beauty of the written word and the thoughts they so easily provoke.
Modern technology is increasing the emotionalism of a cards value. Based on this, you should treasure every card you open as if it's your last. But then, if you were to keep every card that you were to receive, you would end up with a diluted box of emotions, which would eventually mean nothing.
I used to keep my birthday cards. I used to pack them all up and store them away. I could never bring myself to dispose of such wonderful romanticism and vowed to hold on to them forever. Then, once a year (usually around spring - making it about 9 months after my birthday), I would have a spruce up and throw them away. Just a small amount of time (in the grand scheme of things) and those thick bits of paper with pictures and letter on have turned into worthless pulp. Now, I cut out the middleman and abandon the cards after they have sat around the house for a bit on display. There is still bit that tugs at the heart strings when I am placing them in the recycling but I know it's for the greater good (not only am I recycling, but saving space!).
Saying goodbye is a terrible thing. But don't let it get you down. Rather than dwell on the loss, celebrate the time you had together, celebrate the feeling you had when you opened that card. This should be said for all things which are soon to be parted. Look forward to being reunited, or lay the memory to rest with a smile, not with a tear.
You may wish to keep your cards, you may store them away for a rainy day and for that I salute you. Each to their own. After all; if we were all made the same, the world wouldn't have bin-men or newsreaders.