with only a scattering of medical problems,
I feel glad to be alive;
I’m glad I’m not dead!
I am grateful that I have experienced many things
— some wonderful, some less so—
and that I have been able to write books,
to receive innumerable emails from friends, colleagues and readers,
and to enjoy an intercourse with the world.
I am sorry I have wasted so much time.
I am more conscious of transience and, perhaps, of beauty.
I appreciate that I can take a long view
and have a vivid, lived sense of history
not possible at an earlier age.
I can imagine, feel in my bones, what a century is like,
which I could not do when I was 40 or 60.
I do not think of old age as a grim time
that one must somehow endure and make the best of,
but as a time of leisure and freedom,
freedom from the urgencies of earlier days,
free to explore whatever I wish,
and to bind together the thoughts and feelings of a lifetime.
It is up to me to choose how to live out
the months that remain to me.
I wish to live in the richest, deepest, most productive way I can.
I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude,
as a sort of landscape,
with a deepening sense of the connection to all its parts.
This does not mean I am finished with life.
On the contrary, I feel intensely alive,
and I want and hope in the time that remains
to deepen my friendships,
to say farewell to those I love,
to write more,
and to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.
I am not indifferent, but less attached.
I care deeply about Mother Earth,
about our failed/failing institutions,
about growing discrimination and inequality,
but realize that these will need to be addressed
by those beyond me.
I rejoice when I read about or meet gifted young people,
who have been gifted with the talent and skills
to save our species.
I only just truly realized
how great a gift were my parents,
who never ever discouraged me.
I treasure the gift
of my wife, children and grandchildren
who have enriched my life immeasurably.
I cannot pretend I am without fear,
but my predominant feeling is one of gratitude,
I have loved and been loved.
I have been given much
and I have given something in return;
I have read and traveled and thought and written.
I have had an intercourse with the world,
the special intercourse of writers and readers,
of grievers and caregivers,
in Love with Compassion.
Above all, I have been a sentient being,
a thinking, compassionate animal,
on this beautiful planet,
and that in itself has been an enormous privilege