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Nothing Stays the Same for Very Long

In a blur of white lines, concrete
and trees, a young boy stared at me
from the backseat of his parent’s SUV.
For a while, I couldn’t tell if he was
looking at me or through me—then
I remembered all the questions I had
at that age, and my own uncertainty.

I wanted to tell him to slow down and
not be in such a hurry; that nothing stays
the same for very long. I wanted to tell him
not to ask for too much; that happy isn’t
a place you arrive at one day; that, for
most people, happiness is a few days
here and there, scattered like birdseed
over years of heartache and despair.

I wanted to tell him that being in love was
the greatest thing and the worst; that gods
are good, but they are not real; that
religiosity is nothing more than snake oil;
that humility, kindness, and awe, are the
only tools he will ever need. I wanted to
tell him that hope has become a word
we use instead of help; that ultimately
life is nothing more than chance, and
the choices we make along the way.

I wanted to tell him to see himself
through other peoples eyes; that empathy
is more important than language; that
death comes to us all too soon.

When his mother’s unblinking eyes
suddenly met mine in the rearview mirror,
I also wanted to add that I didn’t know
what I was talking about, and not
to listen to me.

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