Dear Elliott and Shelby,
Nothing in life is written in stone because everything is impermanent. Even if it were, it wouldn’t matter because stone isn’t permanent either. The wind and water told me as much.
I became your father as a man with more rings beneath my bark than most enjoying this great gift. That gave me plenty of time to have a wide number of life enriching experiences. I grew up as a poor kid, parented for most of that time by a wonderful and well meaning woman who tried to make the best of her circumstances. I was raised largely through the state of Kentucky assistance program for poor folks and wore hand me downs. There wasn’t enough money to send me to college so I was not to be an “educated man” with initials after my name and the luxury of discretionary leisure. Growing up I dealt with peers harassing me because I was different. I was skinny, nervous with no self esteem and I had the bright and indelible red bull’s eye on my back for bullies and their arrows. I still remember those moments even now and back then I didn’t know about the truth of impermanence so I didn’t think it would ever end. Those circumstances were impermanent and my desire to get as far away from that place both geographically and spiritually helped pull my train to a better station in life.
When I think of the truly special moments in my life now, the ones that really light a fire of euphoria, well .. I have a few. Most of them deal with my travels and thankfully your mother enjoys this as much as I do. You alone visited five countries while you were growing inside your mother so you better get ready sport because your old man still has a lot of energy.
I can’t imagine my life now without these moments they are so deeply woven into my fabric. You’re going to get those moments in life, but do you know how many times they actually happen?
Not very many I’m afraid to tell you.
We already make the mistake of thinking that life is somehow an inexhaustible wellspring and we don’t know when this grand party comes to an end.
Impermanence extends to everything, no exceptions.
Remember that when you meet the special people in your life. Knowing that everything is impermanent will help you appreciate your relationships more. When you have good fortune, remember that it too is impermanent and that may help you to appreciate it more. Also share a little bit of it and you’ll get it back. Trust me.
Great experiences will end, but then again so do the bad ones. Remembering that truth of impermanence will allow you to better enjoy the good times and that same truth will reassure you that your bad times are impermanent also because they’re gonna happen.
Even the stars super nova at some point.
Everything ends. What matters in the end, when the grand party is over, are your actions. It’s about loving others as much as you can without practicing idiot compassion (giving kindness where you get hurt in the process), living as fully as you can (without hurting others), and letting go of things, wholly and absolutely. You should be asking yourself these questions every day, especially when it’s hardest to do so.