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Love at 70

Sharing a little speech I gave recently at my 70th birthday party:

Thank you all for being here. You are my really good friends and I am so grateful for your presence in my life. Your being here with me today makes me really happy. My kids, grandkids and extended family already sent wonderful birthday messages, so this party is for us.

I want to start with the most important thing: A huge "Shout Out" and giant "Thank You" to my amazing and beautiful wife Mallow Robinson who secretly and tirelessly conspired to make this wonderful event happen (put your hands together for Mallow). Take a bow. I have never felt so loved and cherished in my life, from the day we fell in love in Yosemite decades ago to our recent birthday trip to Lake Quinault where she gave me a homemade birthday card listing 70 adjectives describing me, and they were all exactly right. To be loved and really seen at the same time, to be loved for who you really are, is the greatest gift a person can ever have especially from their life partner. Here's to Mallow, the love of my life!

Now, very briefly, what about me? As this day approached, I found myself thinking about what it means to be 70. Of course, as you all know, I have been trying to figure out aging for 20 years, and I think my work is really good (this is, of course, a bit of shameless self-promotion but hey, there it is), but what about me personally? How do I really feel? Here's my response. A little esoteric and eccentric, but please forgive me, because, well, that's how I am.

Since turning 70, I feel like I have completed a lifelong quest, a single North-Star-like journey that began in my adolescent years with my father asking his five sons these huge existential/philosophical questions at the dinner table, like "What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of life? Why are we here?" As a future psychologist, I sensed these questions were signs of depression; as a closet mystic, I knew they were huge and these questions grabbed my soul and would not turn me loose. Sixty years I've been working on his questions. And I think I have answered them for myself. My final book, The Divine Human, kind of sums it up for me. And the message is this: In the merging of consciousness and being, we discover we are already divine, and uncover a wellspring of love that is unlimited, unconditional, and transformative to the individual and the world. This is what I needed to understand and experience all along. It's about finally being the love I was looking for, and as you can probably tell, I'm feeling it. I am aging into love. That's what 70 means to me - it's about becoming love. I danced once to a wonderful Sufi Zikr (which is a repetitive devotional chant) where the words went, "All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you." That's really the final wish of my life.

I recently heard someone rhetorically ask, "Why can't we experience the love and deep appreciation we feel toward someone at their Celebration of Life gathering before they die?" And the answer is, "We can. It's always here. We are that love. When we stop thinking, wake up to the radical here and now, feel the being or our being, this love just comes pouring out. We are made of love - the mystics have been telling us this for centuries, now I get it. Yea I know this all sounds a little crazy and "woo woo," but hey you know how I am and this is my birthday party, so humor me!

So I want to close this little speech by saying that I love you. Your being here makes this day perfect. And, I ain't dead yet, so let's celebrate!
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