Here’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately—as I get older my responsibility to be a good person grows. That thought hasn’t been a quick one for me to reach. I spent the better part of my twenties and thirties consumed with thoughts of me. As I got into my late thirties my thoughts were primarily about my family and me. As I’m reaching that grand age of 40 though I’ve begun to reexamine a lot the ways I’ve been living, a lot of the decisions I’ve made and why I’ve made them and just my general outlook toward the world.
Here’s a selfish reason to be a good person, or better person, as you get older—your ability to pay back your cosmic debts lessens. Karma has a way of catching up to you, or me anyway, and without the appropriate number of years in front of you, well, you’re going to be bound to spend some time in whatever spiritual limbo you believe. People who know me don’t necessarily see me a spiritual person but I can tell you one thing, I believe in karma. I believe that you get what you give. I know I’ve spent too much creating bad juju that I’ve got to pay off now or forever be burdened with the wicked seeds they’ll sow. I don’t think this is an odd thought for a person my age and older to have. Let’s face it, the only reason the city of Pittsburgh has so many libraries, museums, music halls, etc, is because old men like the Carnegie’s and Mellon’s realized they were pretty big dicks for much of their life and now had to pay the piper before the piper came a callin’.
There are of course other, much better reasons to be a good person. I can only speak personally but I’m sure you’d experience many of the same reasons I have. Once you’ve had a kid you start to realize that maybe some of the things you rejected and rallied against as a college aged adult are actually important ideals to have your son or daughter take part in and be a part of. Maybe those timeless values you were too busy screwing away actually do mean something. Don’t get me wrong, my house isn’t suddenly voting Republican and I think you can be a good, great, person, believing in the exact opposite everything the right stands for. So, one of the reasons to be a good person is to show your son or daughter that it does matter how you live your life.
I could go on about the reasons to be a good person but that’s a little mundane don’t you think. You either are going to want to be a good person or you aren’t. By and by, you’re also going to look at your life and the way you’ve been living and make the decision for yourself about whether or not you are a good person and live a good life. I don’t want to leave with any preconceived notions by the way, I don’t have a bunch of dead people buried in a storm cellar somewhere or a record of cheating seniors out of their retirement funds. Most of my reasons for believing I need to be a better person are personal. In the end, if we all look deep and are honest we can all probably find things that need changed to make us a better person.
So, here I am, 40 in a few months and a life that contains some things I’m proud of and some things I’m not so proud of. My life is built on the consequences of those decisions. I’m really trying to live a life that cleans up some of the cosmic stains I’ve left over not just my life but my friends and family as well. It takes some time to crawl out of a hole when you’ve spent so long digging it but I’m working on it. This column may seem a little darker than most that I’ve written. It’s not supposed to. In fact, it’s pretty positive if you think about it, I’m working hard to be a good person and I realize that I haven’t always been a good person. I blame society really. I mean I’m not going to blame myself. Look, I said I was working on being a better person. I didn’t say I was working on being a more intellectually honest person!