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How to Take Something Apart

There is an abandoned building on my running route. It sat empty for a few years and I'd pass by it often, wondering what would be become of it. Soon, a demolition crew moved in and began to dismantle the building. At first, it looked as if crews were taking the thing apart piece by piece. Perhaps they were trying to save the most valuable parts of it. They were salvaging fixtures and woodwork that could be sold or used again. Then, when there was nothing left but a cinder block shell, the heavy machinery showed up and leveled the thing in a lunch hour.

And those, my friends, are your two options when it's time to take something apart. You can pick at it piece by piece, or you can burn it to the ground.

Like ripping off a band-aid, one happens quickly. There may be a burst of a reaction, but soon the dust will settle and no one will know you were even there. Or, you can take your time with the ending, slowly peeling off layer after layer until finally, you've done it.

Whether you leave a job, get out of a relationship, or end an era of your life, you can do it one of two ways. One saves time, the other saves face.

It's up to you which way works in any given situation. If you hate your job and your boss and the receptionist and the carpet, you may as well storm the fort, flip your desk over, destroy the printer with a baseball bat, and get out. If you're not sure if you need to be going, you may try to stick around as long as possible until you know it's the right time to say goodbye.

My daughter likes to topple the towers I build for her out of her blocks. She watches me build them, can tell when I'm done, and then crawls over to level my handiwork with one swing of her arm. Proud, she picks up a piece and turns it over in her tiny hands, sifting through the rubble to see exactly what it was she destroyed.

That option doesn't work in the real world. If you cripple the foundations of something, sticking around to analyze your wreckage is bad form. Tear it down if you must, but please move on.

The choice is yours. Take your time, or say goodbye and be going.

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