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Ellen Goodman writes of letting go in her final column

"There's a trick to the Graceful Exit. It begins with the vision to recognize when a job, a life stage, a relationship is over -- and to let go. It means leaving what's over without denying its validity or its past importance in our lives.

"It involves a sense of future, a belief that every exit line is an entry, that we are moving on rather than out."

It was an odd experience to hear, let alone heed, my younger self.

"The trick of retiring well may be the trick of living well," I wrote back then. "It's hard to recognize that life isn't a holding action, but a process. It's hard to learn that we don't leave the best parts of ourselves behind, back in the dugout or the office. We own what we learned back there. The experiences and the growth are grafted onto our lives. And when we exit, we can take ourselves along -- quite gracefully."

She knew then what I know much more intimately now. So, with her blessing, I will let myself go. And go for it.

Ellen Goodman's column has been syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group since 1976. Her e-mail address is

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