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Put your hands up! Classic “No Phones” Christmas party

Put you hands ups and your phones down!

Suddenly Single... Minded

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We entered the very chic, very private club only to encounter a small forest of Christmas trees, asparkle with twinkling lights and old-fashioned ornament, lining both sides the long hall hallway.

A Will Ferrell sized elf stood next to a ginormous silver punch bowl.

The huge sign, framed in tiny candy. canes read:

Blank white sandwich board on a city sidewalk Club Rules

As fast as people surrendered their phones, Elf and his staff gave out claim tickets.

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Some people walked away slowly, looking back, incredulous.

Others were unsure what to do next – their hands-free.

The tables were laden with cookies and cakes and Christmas candy.

Several “bars” line the vast hall and waitresses dressed in red velvet Mrs. Santa mini-dresses and black boots passed hors d’oeuvres.

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A tiny army of energetic elves entertained the children with tricks and treats and silliness.

The musical sound of children laughing made everybody happy.

Bing, Buble, Botticelli, Clooney belted out classic…

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Tis the season – bundle up!

The Holidays in the Bay Area are famous for traffic jams, rainy weather, wet socks, soggy shoes, drowned-rat-hair, and wonderful concerts, sing-a-longs, plays, festivals, musicals…

Sf.funcheap.com is The San Francisco Go To Place for all the fabulous holiday activities.

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Bring Your Umbrella – Stay warm and have fun!

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Hot Tip From SF FunCheap: Free Airport Parking for the Holidays | Oakland Airport
Monday, November 28 – All Day | Cost: FREE* | Oakland International Airport
Free Airport Parking for the Holidays | Oakland Airport
Oakland International Airport is offering up to 72 hours of free parking (up to a $66 value) between Saturday, October 15 through Friday, December 30, 2016. Get three days of free parking in the Daily Lot when you fly nonstop to Southern California between October 15th, 2016 and …

It’s Not This Time of Year Without…

Meanwhile…waiting at Luggage Claim

Hurry up and wait at SFO…OAK…

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Most oft heard comment, “I am just grateful I got my bag.”

Happy Thanksgiving

Anticipation

Brave enough? Meeting the Fokkers on Thanksgiving?

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 Turkey:  Rhymes with dysfunction

Do you dare bring a date home for Thanksgiving – to meet the family?

Imagine the smell of the turkey roasting in the oven and the sight of luscious pumpkin pies and plump mincemeat pies sitting on the buffet. Cubes of yellow butter melting on mounds of steaming mashed potatoes. The dining room aglow with orange votive candles and a massive centerpiece of fall colored chrysanthemums gracing the table.

Dishes piled with green beans and sweet carrot soufflé, bowls of ruby red cranberries, and pomegranates and tangerines all crowded on the kitchen counter. A veritable food festival with friends and family –and, some ‘Strangers in the night.

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Peggy in Houston writes last year she was graced with, “A cast of cousins straight out of Central Casting, Seven Dwarves style: Grumpy, Dopey, Snarky, Chatty, Smokey, Sneezey, and Boozy.”

Mitch in Walnut Creek  revealed he is ‘blessed’ with an Aunt Can’t Edit, who blurts unseemly comments and slightly embarrasses the entire family in one fell swooping comment.

Okay, kids, so Thanksgiving will never be a Norman Rockwell painting. Granted, for many of us it will be more like “The Scream” Each year we are fortunate to gather, gobble and go. Count your blessings. Bring your current sweetheart home to meet the family? Tomes have been written about courage and bravery – you decide: will this exposure to your kin  be a coup de grace or a potential triumph? Good luck.

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The family… a strange little band of characters trudging through life… inflicting pain and kissing to heal it in the same instant, loving, laughing, defending, and trying to figure out the common thread that bound us all together. ~Erma Bombeck

Oh, Happy Day
Last year, six of us volunteered at three different soup kitchens and were turned away. There were too many volunteers. That’s what I’m talking about.

The Mad Dash of the Holidays is Here:
I refuse to count the daze. This year I’m going to float down the stream of Christmas consciousness and revel in friends, fun, simplicity and sanity. All aboard.


The Day after Thanksgiving and all through the house
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not a creature was shopping- all were watching football, talking, laughing, reading, washing dishes – a meditation- walking, riding bikes, going to see Harry Potter, or RED– and avoiding getting mauled at any mall. Double  dare you to Buy Nothing

San Francisco Dating@50 Examiner, Page Larkin,welcomes your feedback, questions and queries at Page.Larkin@gmail.com.

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Online dating photos: Get in the skin game?

Va Va Voom!

Suddenly Single... Minded

222.Dear Page Larkin,

You are right! It is all about the pictures with online dating.

I spent hours creating a cute, sexy, profile. I plugged my favorite romantic places, my love for Victoria’s Secret, and love for skiing and hot cars.

Being a virtual Virgin, I only posted one good photo (from work,)

Yes, the men from “ The A states” (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas) responded. I want to meet the guy next door-next Town-next County.

You said, “A  good picture’s worth 1000 flirts.” I had a friend take 15 photos of me in V-Neck blouses, low cut tops, strappy and strapless tops and Bam! My mailbox is full of notes and winks. Tell the girls, it’s true. Don’t waste time on purple prose; it’s all about the clothes and the pictures.

Kelly In Carmichael
Tricky

Dear Kelly,  Thank you – and this is a tricky, slippery slope. It is…

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One of the worst dates. Ever.

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We had agreed to meet at a place with “ambience and parking.”

 

I scored a parking place in front- arriving a few minutes early. We decided on trendy, watering-hole downtown. Perched on a barstool, I waited. Twenty minutes later, a tall, gray haired man walked in. He didn’t resemble any of the photos I had seen online. However, he was 6’2 and was walking towards me, smiling.   He said, “Dear, you look just like your photo.”

I thought, “You don’t look a thing like yours. Dear.” He made no apology for being late.

He was wearing a tweed jacket-probably from the 80’s that might have fit him then -not now. Chalk it up to: “Needs help.”

He suggested we move to the table in the small garden in the back. We we’re seated in a lovely area far removed from the bar. The waiter dropped off our drinks and we didn’t see him again.

How we went from where did you go to school -where do you live to his cholesterol, resting heart rate, daily exercise regime, and insomnia, I’ll never know.

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On the dating profile, he indicated a passion for water sports, rowing, hiking and literature.

What he divulged was that his rowing took place in his living room-on a machine looking at the water. He was a big Danielle Steele fan. His hikes were to and from the grocery store.

It didn’t take much to decipher we have very little in common.

He displayed a great interest in my former husband.

Generally, my response is “That’s history.” And I move on.

However, Mr. Old Tweed Jacket was like a dog with a bone inquiring about my past. Which made him even less attractive. I suggested we get the check and call it a day. With no waiter insight, he suggested we simply walk out and not pay.

Then, I really knew I was with a loser.

On the way out, he went to the men’s room; I paid the bill.

As I said “Good luck.”

(that’s what women say when they have no intention of ever seeing the guy again) he indicated he like to “do this again.”

I smiled, walked to my car, and drove off. Dodged that bullet.

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What’s the eHarmony in trying this dating site?

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Been around the ‘Dating Block’ enough times to be an Official Survivor Storyteller?

After years of being married to Mr. or Mrs. Wrong and the ensuing divorce, many of us quickly sign up for Internet dating.

Inspired by those romantic eHarmony ads on TV, we bite.

They say every day 15,000 people fill out the infamous questionnaire.

It can take in excess of 90 minutes to complete the extremely long questionnaire: comprised of 426 seemingly inane questions covering 29 dimensions.

Who knew there was life after the Fifth Dimension?

Finally, you pay hefty $70 for a one month membership. Harmony claims the quality of the service and that “sophisticated matching algorithm” and personality analysis, are so worth it…really?

Good News- Bad News

Shortly thereafter, you receive an analysis of your personality and a description of your “Perfect mate”       Okay. Most of us are seduced by flattery and eHarmony will send quirky pages of prose extolling your virtues. You may be honest, loyal, and steadfast like a Boy Scout. Or Dull and Eclectic, eccentric and exceptionally unusual. To say eHarmony paints with a broad brush only begins to describe the way they analyze your attributes.

Be Prepared: People in the know, claim “EH employees” like “Don in Delhi and Mark in Mumbi are cranking out pretty bizarre Personality Reports – broken English, outlandish claims (i.e. your carry sunshine in a bag; you are walking the streets of Hollywood. What?)

Bottom line? Skip the out-sourced Indian gibberish report.

Everyone wants to see a long list of perfect matches -Prince or Princess Charmings. In the TV ads, couples evidently connected at breakneck speed. There seemed to be a lot of happily- ever- after- going on, right?

Hurry Up and Wait

Then, much to your chagrin, you learn what the term ‘Glacially slow’ means. A glacier moves one tiny fraction of a millimeter of an inch every several thousand days – just like eHarmony. Okay, so my exact glacier mass measurements are fiction — but the fact that eHarmony is slow is pure fact. Be prepared to wait, for a very long time.

Expect singles from The A States ( Arkansas, Alamaba, Arizona, and Alaska) to contact you. It happens.

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Anne, an eHarmony escapee and one of the Yoga Babes said this about her so-called perfect matches:

“One man lived 95 miles away and was three inches shorter than I am in my stocking feet. Lauren, a cattle rancher near Reno liked chess and NASCAR. Me? Not so much. He was ten years older than I am. Next, Frank of Santa Rosa (doesn’t anybody live in San Francisco?) was a pilot, a triathlete and made his own tofu. Granted, I have a preconceived notion about triathlons and I won’t try an athlete who trains 20 hours a week.

I want a guy who likes to walk on the beach, not swims to Alcatraz; I like taking a leisurely ride through Golden Gate Park; not at breakneck speed.

The final ‘exact match’, or so they claimed, was Roland from Fresno. He liked cigars, port, his Bible and his six greyhounds- dogs, not buses. My allergies kicked in, just reading his profile. We didn’t have a thing in common. So, what I hoped would be like ‘Christmas morning’ was more like three lumps of coal. I quit after one month of disappointment. I’m now on Match.com and happier with the results.”

Worth a Try?

One size does not fit all and there are tens of thousands of very happy members on eHarmony. The website is a treasure trove of opportunities. You can order flowers, Fandango tickets, buy insurance, and, yes even  prescription drugs and there are pages and pages of pretty mild dating  advice. Seriously. It may be a perfect fit for your lifestyle and expectations.

You don’t know until you’ve done some research. Have fun on the quest.

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What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?

Vincent van Gogh

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Have Time for a Two-Hour Quickie in the Marina?

I’ve had a love affair with the Marina since the late 1970’s.

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I’ve always loved the darling shops; the wide variety of pubs and unique bars and great restaurants. The Palace of Fine Arts is, undoubtedly, one of  The City’s  finest treasures…. Chestnut Street is bustling and dynamic. You have to love the  Mediterranean style architecture – dazzling; Fort Mason and the two  Yacht Clubs are lively and busy.

Single women – we move to the City and like a magnetic pull, end up in the Marina. I love the Marina.

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Sadly, the Marina doesn’t love me. Or my friends. Or you. It’s a one-sided love affair.


To paraphrase the Bard,  ‘The rejection comes not in single soldiers, but in battalions of two hour-only parking signs lining the streets.’  There are veritable forests of two-hour parking meters and towering signs are as far as the eye can see.

Friday, I fed an insatiable parking meter handfuls of quarters.  As the cold, silver, machine gobbled the money, it registered little of anything. Twenty-five cents buys you five minutes of time.  Time is money was never truer.

And you can forget dinner and a movie... Unless fast food and a dash to feed the meter during the movie are on your Bucket ListJohnny Rocket,  home of Quicksilver hamburger service, will meet your two-hour time restraint. Been there? Done that?

I love the Marina. I hate the two-hour parking meters that inhale quarters like a Hoover.

Bridge and Tunnelers, take note: San Francisco parking tickets are now $64.00.

A small army of Meter Men and Maids troll the streets like trigger-happy cowboys poised to shoot a parking ticket your way.

Bring a credit card, a roll of quarters, set your timer, and your running shoes, if you plan to spend any time and money in the Marina.  Or take a Lyft.  Bon Chance.

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Are you Settling? Afraid of What?

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After a rocky marriage or a mediocre relationship, it can be daunting to think about putting your big toe in the dating pool. Some women are scared off by nightmare stories about online dating.

Others succumb to bad advice from married friends and family – who are clueless.

Linda is 56, pretty, smart, has a great job and has been divorced eight years. She has had a couple of crushes and a handful of dates. She met Harry through her neighbor who did a big song and dance on how reliable, steady, dependable his ol pal Harry was.

At first, Linda met Harry and noticed all of his flaws: a self-professed workaholic, a homebody with very few outside interests. She said he was an old man before his time- but, he seemed dependable.

On their first date, he took her to a steakhouse. Linda has been a vegetarian for 10 years, a good cook and famous for her dinner lively parties. She politely ordered a large salad, he didn’t notice.

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The Attraction:

Harry was a good audience. Unlike her impatient, grumpy, former husband he listened to her every word. That was novel.

She invited him over for dinner the next weekend. She fixed a wonderful vegetarian meal. Harry had not been exposed to the finer things in life and social skills were not his strong suit. Before she was even seated, he was inhaling his dinner. But, he was a good listener. And a great kisser and was actually quite romantic. Big points.

Linda loves to go out to dinner and to movies, take day trips, shop at farmer’s markets, explore San Francisco, Carmel, and be near the ocean. Harry shared none of those interests. He went to work, had dinner, watched TV, and then went to bed, every day.

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After six months, the novelty wore off, granted the intimacy was fabulous-but there’ was no there there.

Linda’s spoke to a couple of very close friends at work and told them the dilemma. The married girls were young enough to be her daughters and both agreed: at her age, all the good ones are taken, online dating is a dead-end, be happy with what you have. Quit complaining.

Linda trusted these girls and thought they are both very smart. 

Never mind both were married, had not been on a date on a date in 10 years, and we’re clueless about the dating scene for people over 50.

And yet, she listened to them.

Settling

Linda’s friends met Harry and agreed he was a nice guy. However, they felt and she was “settling” and that she could do so much better.

They all thought she deserved someone who shared her interests and passions. She was much too young to be with and “old man” who didn’t want to travel, explore new restaurants, explore new cities or travel to new countries. And, in time Linda agreed to take a peek at Match.com and one of the free sites.

Dating Coach: After we got her up and running, we work together – via email and text. 

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Online Dating can be scary. It can also expose you to new people with whom you share interests. It can be fun, intoxicating and exciting.

Tell your friends, don’t be shy – just let people know you are ready to date. Put out the word in your Group of friends and acquaintances that you are now ready to meet other singles.

office-625893__180Take a peek at online dating- check out the free sites, Plenty of fish – take it all with a grain of salt. Peek at Craigslist ads. Look for a free seven-day Match.com promotions. Ask Single friends about what they’re doing and contact me.

page.larkin@gmail.com

On Kindness: George Saunders 2013 Commencement Speech

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George Saunders

Down through the ages, a traditional form has evolved for this type of speech, which is: Some old fart, his best years behind him, who, over the course of his life, has made a series of dreadful mistakes (that would be me), gives heartfelt advice to a group of shining, energetic young people, with all of their best years ahead of them (that would be you).
And I intend to respect that tradition.


Now, one useful thing you can do with an old person, in addition to borrowing money from them, or asking them to do one of their old-time “dances,” so you can watch, while laughing, is ask: “Looking back, what do you regret?” And they’ll tell you. Sometimes, as you know, they’ll tell you even if you haven’t asked. Sometimes, even when you’ve specifically requested they not tell you, they’ll tell you.
So: What do I regret? Being poor from time to time? Not really. Working terrible jobs, like “knuckle-puller in a slaughterhouse?” (And don’t even ASK what that entails.) No. I don’t regret that. Skinny-dipping in a river in Sumatra, a little buzzed, and looking up and seeing like 300 monkeys sitting on a pipeline, pooping down into the river, the river in which I was swimming, with my mouth open, naked? And getting deathly ill afterwards, and staying sick for the next seven months? Not so much. Do I regret the occasional humiliation? Like once, playing hockey in front of a big crowd, including this girl I really liked, I somehow managed, while falling and emitting this weird whooping noise, to score on my own goalie, while also sending my stick flying into the crowd, nearly hitting that girl? No. I don’t even regret that.
But here’s something I do regret.
In seventh grade, this new kid joined our class. In the interest of confidentiality, her Convocation Speech name will be “ELLEN.” ELLEN was small, shy. She wore these blue cat’s-eye glasses that, at the time, only old ladies wore. When nervous, which was pretty much always, she had a habit of taking a strand of hair into her mouth and chewing on it.
So she came to our school and our neighborhood, and was mostly ignored, occasionally teased (“Your hair taste good?” — that sort of thing). I could see this hurt her. I still remember the way she’d look after such an insult: eyes cast down, a little gut-kicked, as if, having just been reminded of her place in things, she was trying, as much as possible, to disappear. After awhile she’d drift away, hair-strand still in her mouth. At home, I imagined, after school, her mother would say, you know: “How was your day, sweetie?” and she’d say, “Oh, fine.” And her mother would say, “Making any friends?” and she’d go, “Sure, lots.”
Sometimes I’d see her hanging around alone in her front yard, as if afraid to leave it.
And then they moved. That was it. No tragedy, no big final hazing. One day she was there, next day she wasn’t. End of story.
Now, why do I regret that? Why, forty-two years later, am I still thinking about it? Relative to most of the other kids, I was actually pretty nice to her. I never said an unkind word to her. In fact, I sometimes even (mildly) defended her.
But still. It bothers me.


So here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it:
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded . . . sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.
Or, to look at it from the other end of the telescope: Who, in your life, do you remember most fondly, with the most undeniable feelings of warmth?
Those who were kindest to you, I bet.
It’s a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I’d say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.


Now, the million-dollar question: What’s our problem? Why aren’t we kinder?
Here’s what I think.Each of us is born with a series of built-in confusions that are probably somehow Darwinian. These are: (1) we’re central to the universe (that is, our personal story is the main and most interesting story, the only story, really); (2) we’re separate from the universe (there’s US and then, out there, all that other junk — dogs and swing-sets, and the State of Nebraska and low-hanging clouds and, you know, other people), and (3) we’re permanent (death is real, o.k., sure — for you, but not for me).


Now, we don’t really believe these things — intellectually we know better — but we believe them viscerally, and live by them, and they cause us to prioritize our own needs over the needs of others, even though what we really want, in our hearts, is to be less selfish, more aware of what’s actually happening in the present moment, more open, and more loving.
So, the second million-dollar question: How might we DO this? How might we become more loving, more open, less selfish, more present, less delusional, etc., etc?
Well, yes, good question.


Unfortunately, I only have three minutes left.
So let me just say this. There are ways. You already know that because, in your life, there have been High Kindness periods and Low Kindness periods, and you know what inclined you toward the former and away from the latter. Education is good; immersing ourselves in a work of art: good; prayer is good; meditation’s good; a frank talk with a dear friend; establishing ourselves in some kind of spiritual tradition — recognizing that there have been countless really smart people before us who have asked these same questions and left behind answers for us.
Because kindness, it turns out, is hard. It starts out all rainbows and puppy dogs, and expands to include, well, everything.


One thing in our favor: some of this becoming kinder happens naturally, with age. It might be a simple matter of attrition: as we get older, we come to see how useless it is to be selfish — how illogical, really. We come to love other people and are thereby counter-instructed in our own centrality. We get our butts kicked by real life, and people come to our defense, and help us, and we learn that we’re not separate, and don’t want to be. We see people near and dear to us dropping away, and are gradually convinced that maybe we too will drop away (someday, a long time from now). Most people, as they age, become less selfish and more loving. I think this is true. The great Syracuse poet, Hayden Carruth, said, in a poem written near the end of his life, that he was “mostly Love, now.”
And so, a prediction, and my heartfelt wish for you: as you get older, your self will diminish and you will grow in love. YOU will gradually be replaced by LOVE. If you have kids, that will be a huge moment in your process of self-diminishment. You really won’t care what happens to YOU, as long as they benefit. That’s one reason your parents are so proud and happy today. One of their fondest dreams has come true: you have accomplished something difficult and tangible that has enlarged you as a person and will make your life better, from here on in, forever.
Congratulations, by the way.


When young, we’re anxious — understandably — to find out if we’ve got what it takes. Can we succeed? Can we build a viable life for ourselves? But you — in particular you, of this generation — may have noticed a certain cyclical quality to ambition. You do well in high-school, in hopes of getting into a good college, so you can do well in the good college, in the hopes of getting a good job, so you can do well in the good job so you can . . .
And this is actually O.K. If we’re going to become kinder, that process has to include taking ourselves seriously ; as doers, as accomplishers, as dreamers. We have to do that, to be our best selves.


Still, accomplishment is unreliable. “Succeeding,” whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success is like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that “succeeding” will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.
So, quick, end-of-speech advice: Since, according to me, your life is going to be a gradual process of becoming kinder and more loving: Hurry up. Speed it along. Start right now. There’s a confusion in each of us, a sickness, really: selfishness. But there’s also a cure. So be a good and proactive and even somewhat desperate patient on your own behalf — seek out the most efficacious anti-selfishness medicines, energetically, for the rest of your life.


Do all the other things, the ambitious things — travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes, swim naked in wild jungle rivers (after first having it tested for monkey poop) — but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial. That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality — your soul, if you will — is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare’s, bright as Gandhi’s, bright as Mother Teresa’s. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret luminous place. Believe it exists, come to know it better, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.


And someday, in 80 years, when you’re 100, and I’m 134, and we’re both so kind and loving we’re nearly unbearable, drop me a line, let me know how your life has been. I hope you will say: It has been so wonderful.
Congratulations, Class of 2013. I wish you great happiness, all the luck in the world, and a beautiful summer.

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Thank you, George Saunders

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