With the sun at my back — Some thoughts on my 68th BIrthday

Today is my 68th birthday. Who would have thunk it? It speaks to the primary accomplishment of having continued to wake up every day.

But it presents some interesting challenges.

What to do with life at a time when your dynamic relevance is waning? How to give back to a society and culture that does not value the accreted wisdom of age? How to gracefully hand over the reins of authority and responsibility to a younger generation that deserves to take ownership yet needs the insights that your life experience offers? How to speak honestly about the world around you without sounding dyspeptic or curmudgeonly? How to let your life serve as a beacon and a marker for those who would choose to look, and how to offer guidance about those issues that are part of the common trajectory of life for us all?

These, and a host of other issues, rise up as I sit here watching the sun rise and listening to the birdsong in our new home here in Oregon.

We are all on a common course through life, though the specifics may vary. The old need the insights of the young; the young need the counsel of the old. We need to help each other, listen to each other, honor each other.

It seems to me, when all is said and done, that kindness is the most important virtue. It creates the best moments, fosters the best memories, crafts the strongest bonds. And it is the motive force of service, which should be the primary task and goal of all of us as we travel through life.

I’m lucky to be here. I’m blessed to have the life I have been given. I have stumbled, made mistakes, and bumped into some of life’s sharp corners as I’ve wandered through the fog. But I awake each day astonished and mystified by the incredible richness of life, and continue to do what I can with such lights as have been given me.

I thank all of you who have been in my life in some capacity. It has been a wonderful journey and I look forward to where it might yet take me. To the best of our knowledge, we pass this way but once, and those with whom we share life’s time are a gift to be cherished. Friendship is all, and kindness is its handmaiden.

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