I spent Monday morning wandering Silver Strand Beach, just south of Coronado, California. It had been almost two years since I’d walked that shoreline, and I was more than happy to be there. It wasn’t an ordinary Monday by any means—it was my 70th birthday. To be honest, it feels unbelievable to have reached this threshold of a new decade. All my life 70 seemed ancient, and now I’ve arrived. Although my skin is becoming more wrinkly and the veins in my hands are increasingly prominent, I don’t feel old. In fact, I feel younger and in better health than I did ten years ago. Occasionally details of certain situations or someone’s name slip my mind, yet my most creative, innovative moments have come in this past decade. When I consider slipping away from the Seed to do something else, I always seem to be pulled back to continue this work. The opportunities to make a difference, especially in the area of social justice, have never been greater.
While walking on the beach, something unusual caught my eye. At first I thought it was a sea anemone washed up on the shoreline, since it was resting beside a pile of kelp. When I took a second look I discovered it was a dried up sunflower with lots of its leaves still intact. It was quite beautiful, even in its late stage of life. I smiled, thinking of course it was a sunflower. Anyone who knows me is aware that sunflowers have played a prominent role in my life since the 1990s. Over the years they’ve infiltrated everything from my writing and gardening to my art. It seemed quite natural that I’d find one in this condition around the time of my 70th birthday.
As I’ve aged I haven’t spent too much time being concerned about external changes. My focus has been more on internal transformations and making sure that I’m still relevant to the people and situations that arise in my life. Especially around the Seed, it’s high on my priority list that my presence contributes to the well being of others. As the years accumulate, I find myself increasingly mindful of how my time is utilized. I don’t want to waste one bit of it.
In the days ahead, I know I’ll be reflecting on where I want to place my attention and my heart in the next decade of this life on Planet Earth. I will not be retiring. What I do and how I do it will likely shift; however, staying curious and committed to improving the quality of life for all humans will be at the forefront of my intentions and actions. I plan to be like the sunflower I found on the beach that had already lived fully through the early stages of its life cycle, slightly withered yet present and, in words inspired by Mary Oliver’s poem “The Sunflowers,” involved in the process of turning my life into a celebration.