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I just had a landmark birthday–70. First, let me say, I feel incredibly cherished, loved, and treasured by my family and friends, having had a wonderful birthday. All stops pulled out. No holds barred. It was an amazing birthday. I am immensely grateful.

But 70. This is really going some. I was only ever once bothered by a number, and that was 40. It took me by surprise. I had been thinking I look young, I feel young, so who cares? And then, the night before, I suddenly realized the true meaning of turning 40. Forty years of my life were gone. Now, with 70 years behind me, I feel grateful for a very full and lucky life, while also acknowledging that I am pretty far along in an average lifespan.

I do always ponder age, life, and my intentions when I have a birthday. But this one, so soon after the death of someone I very much admired, perhaps makes the question of intentions more urgent than usual.

Drawing by E. H. Shepard

When I turned 60 I set out to do 60 new things, and that was loads of fun. But for 70 I’m thinking I’d like to do one thing really well. And that one thing is this: I want to get really good at being a good, kind, loving person. I believe I’ve written about this before. A Winnie-the-Pooh, perhaps. I do also have human role models but Winnie-the-Pooh has been captured forever in a book, with drawings and quotes and so forth, and I will never lose him.

“So from then on, he looked at all his choices and said, What would a good person do, and then did it. But he has now learned something very important about human nature. If you spend your whole life pretending to be good, then you are indistinguishable from a good person. Relentless hypocrisy eventually becomes the truth.” – Orson Scott Card, Ender in Exile

I love this. Pretend. Pretend to be that person. Do as you hope to be.And then, too, Deepak Chopra says that our true self is perfect and cannot be altered by life, circumstances, detours, bad choices, or mistakes. The true self is never damaged or broken. It is forever perfect in each of us. I so love this idea, too. I immediately feel lighter when I think of it.

“I shall hereafter be more myself.” – William Shakespeare

So there’s my intention for 70, for my new decade, for this last part of my life. I shall be more myself; that is, I shall be more my true self.

I apologize for the lateness of this letter. I was busy all weekend being loved to pieces by many people and feeling tremendously thankful for my good fortune.
If you’re looking for my cards or art, you’ll find all of that on my website. And if you enjoy these letters, feel free to forward this one to anyone you think might like it. Finally, you’ll find past letters and poems here.

Thanks for listening,

P.S. MerryThoughts is the name of my first book, out of print at the moment. The word is a British one, referring both to a wishbone and to the ritual of breaking the wishbone with the intention of either having a wish granted or being the one who marries first, thus the “merry thoughts.”
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