Photo Notation: Bears (at 70) with Samahria (just months away from the same number). Within a year, we will have the next milestone birthday cake assuming I am still walking this planet – 100 minus 20 – or 80. And if I never plant 80 on a cake…how wonderful to have been able, right now, to write this to all of you.
“WHEN I WAS TWENTY, I thought reaching 60 or 70 or 80 or 90 was somewhat rare — the tribe thinned out at 70 and for those who were still around (alive)…Humm, they would walk slower, think slower, talk slower. Some of them might not know who they were anymore. Ah, when I was in my twenties, my life whizzed in the streets of New York City, working in the movie industry, beginning my own “think tank” creative organization, working on a novel, riding my bike during lunch in Central Park in Manhattan, looking so successful on the outside and feeling so lost and unhappy on the inside. Starting a family became a startling adventure. And then, to be a better partner, better father, and a better friend, my search for more self-understanding went into high gear.
“WHEN I WAS THIRTY, I had already started radically changing my beliefs, teaching the Option Process®, and started to let go of judgments of myself and others, even those who might be 70 or 80 or 90 years old. Getting older didn’t look particularly appetizing but no longer scary. Autism would bounce provocatively into our lives and from that moment forth, everything would be different because we decided to live and act differently in order to create a bridge into a world so different than anything we had ever known. We were willing to give up everything we knew and understood for what we could know and understand. All of this helped us (Samahria and me) to open our arms even wider and purposely expand our family by adopting children who were unwanted and victims of trauma. Easy – not really. Mind and heart and spirit expanding – yes, yes, without a doubt. We became a rainbow family.
“WHEN I WAS FORTY, I had grown up, helped innovate The Son-Rise Program with my girlfriend, my partner, my wife — further developed the notion that “Happiness Is A Choice” and further developed what we taught so others could learn and change easier and more quickly. Wow, I had even written books (doing another one of my dreams) — some of which became best-sellers and were distributed worldwide. Most importantly, I began to become more and more acutely aware of what I didn’t yet know and so sincerely wanted to teach myself. Thinking about 70 or 80, I thought (at that time) was for folks who were not too busy…and wow, was I busy doing my bliss. Also, so much was happening in my “now.”
“WHEN I WAS FIFTY, I watched some of my children become young adults (and embraced my children’s children), I continued to exercise daily (which we had done since our 20s), I pressed myself to improve my teaching skills, asked myself to open my heart bigger and did my best to love first, act second (now a core teaching at the Option Institute and in The Son-Rise Program). I wrote more books, toured the country, made my mission deeper and more pervasive in my life, and expressed gratitude more often than ever before. 70 and 80 were in the distance but coming up on the horizon.
“WHEN I WAS SIXTY, I realized that no one would call me a young man again (except someone who might be eighty or ninety), I actually studied more diligently and worked with greater focus improving what we taught, I exercised more vigorously, took more trips (especially to the mountains in Switzerland), loved more people and kept practicing how to always come out smelling like a rose (all of which had to do with self-acceptance and self-celebration). I was now 100 minus 40. And 70 or 80 or 90, well, it was still way in the distance but closing in fast. Ah, when I was sixty.
“WHEN I WAS SEVENTY — actually, I feel more energetic, more vibrant, more curious and fascinated, more thoughtful, more present, more loving, happier and more of a boyfriend to my girlfriend, Samahria than ever/ever. Gosh, imagine experiencing yourself (at least some of the time) like a glass of wine, aged wine (I smile because I do not drink but I like the metaphor), or imagine the most delicious flavor of gelato ice cream or the sweetness of a warm summer breeze or the soft sounds of an expertly played cello.
“WHEN I AM EIGHTY (That’s one century old minus 20). This is coming up fast in less than a year (my next birthday). This afternoon, I climbed the hillside, looked back at the valley below, and kept saying to my honey beside me, we are so blessed, we are so blessed, we are so blessed. So many others in the world do not have the freedoms, the safety, the beauty, and the love that surrounds us. I can’t imagine anything more wonderful than for us to do our best, in our lives, to reach out and offer to others, in whatever small and imperfect way we can, some of that freedom (of choice), safety inside (through self-acceptance and acceptance of others), beauty (to be awed by all the little and big wonders in our lives) and love (dropping judgments, keeping our hearts open, choosing inclusion, being useful to others with kindness and delight).
“WHEN I AM NINETY – Oh, well, first let me get to 100 minus 20…and just keep rocking on in the present moment. More mountains to climb, more rivers to swim, more roads to travel, more people to help, more love to express…and boundless gratitude for it all.”
Blessings upon blessings upon blessings.
Love, Bears (Barry Neil Kaufman) CEO/Co-Founder of the Option Institute and
Author of Happiness Is A Choice and No Regrets