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Letter to Elliott and Shelby #1 – This Impermanent Life

Dear Elliott and Shelby,

There is a great and magnificent ocean. So overwhelming, one can barely comprehend it for there is no perceptible beginning and no discernible end. Like the universe.

The ocean is incomprehensible.

There is an old man in this ocean, a singular Methuselean turtle, who is more than happy to spend his time beneath the water. Very occasionally, out of necessity or unbridled boredom, he must swim to the surface. It’s isn’t often, only once every 100 years in fact. Drifting aimlessly about on this infinite ocean is leftover piece of flotsam or jetsam from some nameless vessel whose whereabouts are long unknown and unwondered about. It’s a lifering and it doesn’t give any deliberate thought to what direction it’s going to go next. It is, after all, hardly a contemplative creature. The old man ascends and breaches the surface at dead center of the lifering and in the process makes a mockery of the previously unquestioned, statistical certainty of appearing at a place that is anyplace but where he happens to be at that moment.

The odds are incomprehensible.

The fact that you are here, in your present form means that you too have made a mockery of those odds. The calculable number of living things is so tremendous as to be incalculable.

A human birth is incomprehensible.

Being born human doesn’t make you superior, but it is special in a few ways. You have the ability to help thousands of living beings or to do them great harm. History has demonstrated no shortage of people that have wrought the full range of terrifically horrific to the tremendously compassionate. Human life is special because we are aware of birth, old age, sickness and death and can choose to accept those facts. We are aware of the possibility of our own extinction. Unlike the animals, we do not have to act solely upon instinct and kill, but to instead practice and exhibit compassion and that should be our default because it is our actions that determine the life we ultimately have. Every action has a reaction and that isn’t a controversial point, nor is it a negotiable one.

Sometimes it takes tragedy for one to realize how wonderful this precious human life is. There are times when you are going to take this for granted, as we all do, but I hope it stays in the back of your mind and may your reminders of this truth be gentle. It is meant as an affirmation to enjoy everything while you are here but don’t be so paralyzed as to make security your master. Do that and you will make sacrifices for it and once you do that you will become lost. It’s the incomprehensible, it is the constants. Your precious, rare human life, the fact that it ends, and the fact that I will always, unconditionally, love you. If you were a glass and love were water, I’d be that vast ocean because my love for you is also incomprehensible and it always will be.

Love,
Dad

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