As my son embarked on his academic journey at Addis Abeba University, my mind could not help but linger on the distance he commuted daily from the suburban neighbourhood of Ayat to the Sidist Kilo area. The prospect of navigating a 30Km stretch between home and university was daunting for a novice boy like him.

Although commuting daily is a challenge for those of us living on the outskirts, securing a dormitory was not an automatic privilege for those from the capital. The issue transpired at home as well. It led to a familial tug-of-war about the necessity of applying for one.I found myself advocating for the dormitory option, envisioning the practicality it would offer, especially during exam times or late-night study sessions at the library. It was not warmly received by my son and his mother, sparking debates and a futile attempt on my part to relocate him closer to the university.

The road to application was not petals and roses. From letters of recommendation to navigating bureaucratic mazes, it turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated. In the midst of all these, it struck me that I was not merely dealing with the logistics of dormitory applications but unravelling the emotional threads that tie a parent and a child. What we were going through was not just a matter of convenience but an emotional entanglement.

One profound realisation was the difficulty in letting go. Mothers, especially, find it arduous to sever the ties nurtured over the years. In our case, the dynamics of being an only child intensified the reluctance to change established patterns of closeness. While my son and his mother clung to their familiar bond, I assumed a more pragmatic stance.

To make matters worse, I found out that a friend who has a special place in my heart is gearing up to travel abroad on a lucrative job offer. Our bond was strong to the point of becoming confidants and advisors to each other.

His departure came unexpectedly. Though he has been toying with the idea for months, I never thought it would come to reality. While I wish him the best that life has to offer, it pains me to say goodbye. Friends like that do not come easy.

Letting go is a universal struggle. Whether sending a child to a university dormitory, bidding farewell to a close friend departing for a lucrative job abroad, or wrestling with the separation of soulmates due to unforeseen circumstances — the pain is real. The human inclination to resist detachment from what we cherish is deeply ingrained.

The world has witnessed the untimely departures of luminaries like Princess Diana, and Paul Walker, leaving a void in the lives of loved ones. Recent losses in our country, such as radio and TV host Asfaw Meshesha and sports journalist Genene Mekuria, remind us of the fragility of life.

Recently, I had the privilege of witnessing "Gianni Versace: Emperor of Dreams" at the Italian Cultural Institute. The film, directed by Mimmo Calibresti, delves into Versace's journey from a coastal Mediterranean town to global stardom, culminating tragically in his murder in Miami Beach in 1997.

During a poignant Q & A session after the screening, Mimmo's palpable sense of loss and the enduring challenge of letting go was evident, even after 27 years. The movie left an indelible mark, prompting me to exchange words and capture a moment with the Italian director.

We are only transient blips. Our connections, relationships, and treasured memories are fleeting, yet our human nature clings to them fiercely. Letting go becomes a furnace that tests resilience and emotional strength.

Michael Jackson's poignant lyrics echo this sentiment: "Gone too soon." The lyrics resonate with a universal truth — the abrupt departure of something or someone precious.

“Like a comet,

Blazing ‘cross the evening sky,

Gone too soon,

Like a rainbow,

Fading in the twinkling of any eye,

Gone too soon,

Shiny and Sparkly,

And splendidly bright,

Here one day,

Gone one Night.”

These words encapsulate the universal sentiment of loss, the fleeting nature of life, and the abruptness with which cherished moments can be taken away. In the context of my friend's imminent departure, the lyrics become a haunting reminder of the impending void.

But there is a silver lining. Amidst the waiting list for a dormitory and the daily drives with my son, I have come to appreciate the unexpected blessings in disguise. The morning drives, filled with discussions and shared moments at a local café, have become a precious routine. It serves as a poignant reminder of keeping a balance between holding on and letting go.

I am reminded that life is a series of departures and arrivals. Each farewell is a prelude to a new beginning, a chance for growth, and an opportunity to embrace the unknown.

Attachment is also significant in our careers. It is easy to lose sight of the journey amid the clamour for success. We find ourselves ensnared in the pursuit of goals, sacrificing our well-being and contentment at the altar of achievement. I believe there is a path where success and happiness are not contingent upon outcomes.

The key lies in detaching ourselves from the result and enjoying the process. It helps us to relinquish our attachments and expectations, urging us to embrace the present moment and the process itself, rather than fixating on the result. It is about executing our responsibilities with equanimity, unfettered by the sway of success or failure.

At first glance, detachment might appear paradoxical, particularly in a society that venerates tangible accomplishments. Yet, it serves as the linchpin for both success and happiness across all facets of life.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 03,2024 [ VOL 24 , NO 1240]

Bereket Balcha works in the aviation industry and is passionate about fiction writing and can be reached at (

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