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John Eggers: How do you say goodbye in Ojibwe?

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How do you say “goodbye” in Ojibwe? Thanks to some dedicated people in town, we know how to say “hello” (Boozhoo), but how do you say goodbye?

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As you probably already know, there is no word for “goodbye” in Ojibwe. About the closest word would be, according to some friends of mine, “Minawaa giga-waabamin,” which means, I’ll see you again.

So, why isn’t there a word for “goodbye?” This is nothing unusual. There are many words in one language that may not translate into another language. This is why translating jokes and poems can be frustrating. Some words just don’t transfer with the same meaning.

It is, you might say, kind of cool, that there is no word for “goodbye” in Ojibwe. This leads one to speculate, to imagine some reasons why and to create our own way of saying goodbye.

One reason might be that we really never say goodbye to anyone. It’s just a matter of, “Well, I will see you later.” It’s as if we never will part. That’s really Minnesota nice.

Maybe there is no word for goodbye because we will all see each other in the afterlife. That’s a pleasant, positive way of looking at things.

Perhaps, there is no word for goodbye because there is a spirit that follows each of us and it is the spirit that keeps us connected to the end of time. Many Native Americans have a marvelous way of looking at everything and finding a connection whether it is with rocks or trees or animals or with humans. We are all connected to everything.

Another theory is that we all need to search for our own way of saying goodbye. Maybe not having a word will inspire us to think of a more meaningful way to say “I will see you later.” Let me give it a try.

May you walk with dignity wherever you go.

Only with dignity can you find your true self worth.

May you walk with dignity.

 

Dignity is a quality we all need to possess. When people lack dignity, it is our responsibility to help them find it.

 

May you find a connection between your life and things around you.

When you find connections you find meaning in life.

May you find connections.

Isn’t it beyond interesting to know that we are all connected in some way? It could be by blood, by interests, by gifts, or by others. We need to build on these connections and help others find connections.

 

May you find peace in yourself and in the world.

Only when there is peace can we become what we want to be.

May you find peace.

I have to believe that everyone on our connected Earth wants peace. We all have to believe it. Without searching for, fighting for, and, yes, even dying for peace, what kind of life would we have?

 

May you see things that bring beauty to your life.

There is beauty in everything when you take time to look for it.

May you see beautiful things.

 

The older I become the more beautiful life becomes. Really! I know, many of you would disagree but when you think about it, life is what we want it to be. Older people have the wisdom to make life very special and beautiful.

 

May you catch sight of the goodness in everyone.

When we find goodness in others, we find goodness in ourselves.

May you see good in all.

 

Sometimes we have to look very hard to find good in someone. The point is that we first must look for it. If you want to find goodness in yourself and in others and truly believe goodness is present, you will find it.

 

May you live for today knowing tomorrow will be another day to live for.

Each day is a blessing; each day is a gift to cherish.

May you live for today.

I was inspired to write this column from a class I recently took on mindfulness. At first I wasn’t sure where the class would lead me, but now I know. In my own way, I now know how to say goodbye in Ojibwe.

JOHN R. EGGERS of Bemidji is a former university professor and area principal. He also is a writer and public speaker.

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