That’s a joke headline. True that it’s my birthday but I write what I choose every day. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong, but I write what I choose. This is a freedom I gained when I realized that I’m free from ambition. At my exalted age (82), there is nothing to tempt me. I don’t yearn for a job or an appointment to anything. I don’t seek money. I have enough.

So I will share some hard-earned lessons.

Do what’s right and let the chips fall where they may.

Don’t worry if you have enemies. If you stand on principle, it will confuse some people and anger others. Don’t let the naysayers turn you round or intimidate you. In my case, they are paid to try. No one pays me, so that’s a source of freedom too.

Don’t be too certain. Listen and learn. Weigh the evidence. You might be wrong.

If you realize you are wrong, apologize and make it right. When you have made a mistake, don’t dig in. Admit it. Apologize.

It’s okay to change your mind when you learn new things. Emerson said that “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…”

Stand up for people who don’t have a voice. If you have a megaphone, as I do, share it. Use it to protect the weak and vulnerable.

Don’t be afraid. Illegitimi non Carborundum. It’s a fake Latin phrase but it makes sense.

During a global pandemic, wear a face mask. Only fools refuse to wear a mask to protect themselves and others. The Lone Ranger and Batman wore masks. Wonder Woman didn’t but she would have if it were necessary to save lives.

Read myths to your children and grandchildren. I read D’Aulaires’ myths to my children and grandchildren. Read the myths of many cultures to broaden your children’s understanding and appreciation of others and to see the oneness of humanity.

Read poetry. I have a long, long list of my favorite poets. I read poetry for solace and inspiration.

If life gives you lemons, you know what to do with them.

If you want to help me celebrate this milestone, make a donation to the Network for Public Education. That’s where it will do the most good. I don’t want for anything. I would like to get rid of every worldly possession except the clothes on my back, a change of clothes for the sake of hygiene, my cellphone, a few books, soap, and a toothbrush. After months without a haircut, I am tempted to shave my head. But I don’t have enough courage to be that bold. Maybe next year.