On Moving

A letter to Gus in which we talk about moving and even get into a little Buddhist philosophy

On Moving
Photo by Anton Atanasov / Unsplash

26 February 2022

Dear Gus,

Yesterday, we dropped some big news on you: we are likely going to be moving in the coming months. As your mom and I geared up for this conversation, I couldn't help but think about the last time I told you we were moving.

On a Saturday morning in April 2019, you and I woke up early. Mom was still in bed, so I told you to grab a book and your drawing stuff; we were going to get donuts. I took you to a donut shop in Fort Worth, and we ordered some sugary things. You got orange juice. I got coffee. We settled in with our books and drawing stuff.

I don't know how I started the conversation or what I said to you, but when I told you that we would be leaving our house in Fort Worth and moving down to the Houston area, you got real quiet and still. You looked down at your clipboard and started drawing something. After ten or fifteen or maybe even twenty seconds, you turned your clipboard around to show me a gigantic frowny face that took up the entire page.

Frown face from blue screen of death
Photo by Joshua Hoehne / Unsplash

I wish I had kept that drawing. But I didn't. My heart sank. I thought you'd be excited to move to Houston, to be closer to family, to be closer to the Astros. But you had started to make a little life for yourself in Fort Worth and Arlington. You had friends. You had a soccer team and a baseball team. You had memories.

Now, here we are again. All the same things apply.

I wasn't at home when Mom told you the news, but I understand that it was quite the scene. You were upset. Rightfully so! You've got a lot going for you here: a good group of friends, a baseball team that you've been playing with for two years, and a golf coach who thinks the world of you.

By the time I came home, you'd slammed your bedroom door, emptied the shelves in your room, torn the sheets off your bed. Your face was puffy, your eyes red and swollen. When I walked into your room, you were in the corner and Mom was laying on your bed.

We talked. You let it all out. We snuggled a bunch and then you asked me if I was sad. I told you that I wasn't. I didn't know where we were going to end up, but I knew that we were on a great adventure and that the three of us — you, me, and Mom — we'd be together on that adventure. "We might think of this house as home," I said, "But your mom and I have always agreed: home is wherever the three of us are."

I believe that, too.

Everything around us, Gus, is changing. You know this well. Sometimes, when I'm trying to fix your hair or help you get your super-tight shoes on or off, I'll say, "Gus, be still!"

"I can't, Dad," you say, "Everything is moving. The earth is rotating on its axis and revolving around the sun. The solar system is revolving around the center of the Milky Way which is moving through an expanding universe."

You get your smart-ass tendencies from me, so I kinda respect that.

But it proves that you understand the general direction of things: everything passes and everything changes. The great sage Siddhartha Gautama, the guy that most people call "the Buddha," believed that change was the fundamental nature of all reality. Everything, the Buddha believed, is in the process of arising and passing away.

Therefore, when we find something that endures, we want desperately to hold on to it, to freeze it, to keep it just as it is.

While nothing lasts forever, there are certain things that endure. The bond that you and me and Mom have, that bond is one of those things that endures.

Our lives will change. We will move. We will change jobs and change houses. But the love I have for you will remain.

Someday, you'll move out, too. In just seven or eight years, you'll be heading out on your own to figure out what you're supposed to do with the 4,000 weeks you've got on this planet. But the love I have for you will remain.

We will age. One day, I'll be too old to throw a baseball with you. One day, you'll be too big for me to pick up and squeeze so tight. But the love I have for you will remain.

I love that you showed your emotion, that you let me and Mom teach you how to scream into your pillow, and that we laughed about the idea that maybe the pillow would scream back later on that night. I love that you feel things so deeply. I also love, perhaps most of all, that later that night, you gave me a hug and asked me again if I was sad. You told me it was okay for me to be sad. I smiled and hugged you.

I'm not sad, Gus. Because I've still got you and Mom, and that's enough.

With love and admiration,