It is hopeless for me to express in words my gratitude. So let me be blunt: thank you for being who you are, for being not only my advisor but also a generous friend who, in his busy schedule, would always find time for me, sometimes give me a lift home in his van, and even give me one of his graduation gowns, even though I vowed to skip my own graduation.
I am undoubtedly just one individual out of many generations of people who feel inspired by your words and actions. And yet, I feel privileged that I am continuously learning from you, especially about the need to have an uncompromising desire to seek the truth, and to never settle for the consensus view.
Time moves on, but I miss your Thursday lectures, our walks down MIT corridors afterwards, as well as our regular biweekly meetings that continued even after I graduated. Our interactions were not only more of an education than anything else I have received but, more importantly to me, they remain wonderful moments in themselves—even our polemical and contentious exchanges.
I wish you not only a wonderful 90th birthday/anniversary—but many wonderful future experiences in life, be they profoundly intellectual, or simple pleasures, such as being with friends and family, Polish vodka, or the Arizona sun in the afternoon.
Talking about Arizona, it maybe geographically not as close to New York as MIT is to Harvard, but I still hope to have many fruitful conversations with you—maybe even successfully present a convincing argument now and then. But obviously, I am not counting anymore on getting a lift home. Some things do change.
Take care of yourself.