A reader writes:

Hitting that milestone ... what I think of as my Beatles' birthday … will anyone still love me? Should I care, as long as I've learned to love myself, respect my achievements and to forgive myself for my imperfections (those that are not born of small-mindedness, at any rate)? Well, more love is always better, of course … especially from those who don't mind the grey in my hair. All the time I was growing up, I felt so unlucky -- about my family, our circumstances, what little I had and all the things I lacked, all the prizes I never won, all the friends I never managed to make …

and now here I am, understanding at last that all that luck I thought I was missing was really just held in reserve for the larger things in life: to carve out a notional space that I'm comfortable in, and a physical space that -- in these times, particularly -- I'm incredibly fortunate to have. Those friends I didn't make in high school? Well, they likely wouldn't still be my friends now anyway, so much time and distance having intervened … instead I have the friends of my here and now, those I've known for 30 years and those I've known for just 3 years … and they seem entirely sufficient to my needs. But, again: more love is always better, and there's always room for another friend in this life.

The weather is changing here … big breezes at sundown blow away the clouds and humidity, leaving a fresh feeling to the air on your skin … and it lasts until dawn, when it's a joy just to be able to walk outside … and so I'm outside a lot, daylight and dark … and that's where I think about all this: What are the chances that my specific collection of atoms should have been allowed to coalesce into a being constructed not only to support thought but also self-awareness? A being capable of apprehending the beauty all around and concluding that the apprehending of it is probably the point of being here at all … I think if you are religious in the general sense, you probably perceive this as a form of worship -- the apprehension of and thankfulness for all that beauty which is experienced as a divine gift … I may not call it that, but I think I appreciate it in much the same way: through sheer wonder and gratitude.

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