Having Lived a Good Life

First, to get any unintended interpretations out of the way: I, personally, am doing 100% fine. As of the time of this writing, neither I nor anyone in my immediate family has come down with any symptoms of the virus. Despite that…everything on the news makes me think it’d be better to make an entry like this sooner rather than later. No harm in doing so, I think. So today I’ll put out a more introspective entry.

See, I’ve always been very lucky, both in particular circumstances and my general life trajectory, as well as in two other aspects I’ll get to soon. In terms of particulars, I’ve managed to barely avoid some pretty risky situations just through the skin of my teeth. A couple of times in college, I was nearly run over(one time due to my own carelessness, not looking at a road before stepping on to it), but stopped just in time, and close enough I could feel the wind from the onrushing car or truck (the first time) blow through me. A few times I managed to evade what could have been some pretty serious trouble just through luck. Remember a few years ago, when I got stopped by a cop? I kept my cool and as it turned out, it was nothing more than an expired registration, and I dealt with that easy-peasy. And remember my whole grad school saga? I nearly flunked out, but thanks to some good fortune (and some tenacity), I managed to end up with an AWESOME committee and graduate.

In a general sense? Bluntly stated, I have a pretty charmed life. I’m reasonably wealthy and financially secure, in good health, with lots of leisure time, a good relationship with my family, and many wonderful friends. Throughout my life, I’ve never really experienced any privation or hardship. And this is due simply to the circumstances of my birth, not any virtue on my part. In a word, pure luck.

So yeah, I’m pretty lucky. Pretty damn lucky. This is one reason I’m not worried on a *personal* level about the coronavirus. Don’t get me wrong, I’m concerned for my friends and family and I’m keeping an eye on all of them, and the bad news I’ve heard makes me a little depressed. But personally, as an individual, given my curiously excellent luck, even if it’s not due to anything I actually do, I think it’s more likely than not I won’t catch the virus, or if I do, I’ll recover.

Does that sound a little blase and overly optimistic? Yeah. It’s why I’m not taking any chances–I’m maintaining very strict quarantine, not going to restaurants, washing my hands, and all that. C’mon, you guys have read my previous entries and you know I’m taking this seriously. I’m not so much of a jerk that I’m gonna push my luck, even if I have a lot of luck to push. You can never have too much of it, after all, so no sense wasting it.

And it is possible my luck just may run out. Who knows, maybe I’ve already spent it all on this wonderful life of mine, and as it turns out, karma decrees that I won’t live that long to enjoy it (I’m only in my early 30s). It’s a remote possibility, both given my previous luck and the simple fact that the virus doesn’t hit my age group as hard. But it’s still a possibility. So just in case, if my luck really has run out, and this virus ends up spelling the end for me somewhere down the line…I wanted to write one entry to convey what (IMO) are the most important things I can say if I can’t say anything else.

I think, at the end of the day, I’ve lived a good life. And I’m immensely grateful for it.

I said above I have a charmed life. Is that necessarily a good life? No. When people say “a good life,” they usually mean having grown into a well-balanced individual *and* having lived a virtuous, magnaminous, and charitable life–one spent doing good to others and avoiding doing evil. We could say that a sleazebag like Bernie Madoff lived a charmed life (before getting caught), because he was materially wealthy (like I am, though of course to a much greater extent), but we wouldn’t say he lived a good life, because he didn’t adhere to morality and brought much evil and suffering to the people around him.

I, thankfully, am very much different–not just because I’m not as wealthy, and not just because I haven’t done anything as bad as Madoff, even if I have done some bad things–which I’ll get to momentarily. In the end, I think I *have* lived a good life, both in terms of personal fulfillment *and* having done good for others–though in the latter case, it’s more of having successfully redeemed myself for once leading a pretty *bad* life in adolescence.

In fact, that’s the third sense in which I would count myself being extremely lucky–having had the chance to find a better way to live, and make up (to a very great extent by this point, I’d say) for all the dumb stuff I did earlier in life. If you had asked me if I’d have turned out this well when I was 14, or even 20, I’d have said no way, no way at all. As I mentioned in previous entries, I used to be a pretty disruptive troll when I was younger, getting into all sorts of dumb fights and generally being a nuisance. But I eventually managed to grow up and cast away a lot of my stupid beliefs (a process I’ve mentioned before). And both on the Internet and offline, I’ve worked quite hard to build up a store of virtuous deeds that actually benefit the people around me and make me a valued member of my communities instead of a detriment. I’ve helped on several projects for my friends at /m/subs, finished Wayward Son and otherwise tried to be encouraging and helpful to folks in the Fire Emblem fandom in my last years there, contributed to the success of both the Castlevania Dungeon and Bloodstained communities, and although I’ve lost most of my faith in religion, my posts on Catholic theology and Aristotelian philosophy have (judging from the commenters on my blog, Reddit, etc.) enlightened and educated at least a few people. Offline, I’ve donated blood, participated in local civic life (not only voting, but also sending correspondence to my elected officials), did a reasonably good job helping and guiding students as a TA at grad school, and I’ve done a couple of nice things, though admittedly not that many, at my present uni among my friends. I don’t say this to make a big deal out of it or to pose myself as anything better than I am, but to fairly assess my own life. If I had a negative impact on the world in my youth in the form of internet trolling, I’ve made up for it and outdone it through my virtuous works online and offline in adulthood. Thus, in the final analysis, I think I can legitimately say that on balance, I have lived a good life.

If it were to end tomorrow–if my good luck were to run out–that’s the second-last sentiment with which I would like to leave this world, and the second-last sentiment I’d like to leave with you, friends. Again, I’m lucky in 4 ways. I described the first three–lucky in particular circumstances, lucky in being generally materially well off, and lucky in having had a chance to make up for a misspent youth. But the sentiment I really wanna leave off on is this: The fourth way I’m lucky, is the amazing friends I’ve made, and how they combined with my journey of repentance (of sorts) to make what I really think is an eccentric but profoundly rich life. I don’t have space here to individually list out every person, but suffice it to say that I probably have one of the best collection of friends any man could hope to enjoy throughout human history. IRL–from high school to grad school, and online, from the Fire Emblem fandom, to the Metroidvania fandom, to mecha fans, to people finding my work here on WordPress or linked on Reddit, and everywhere else, I’ve met such a magnificent variety of wise and wonderful people who shaped me into who I am today–and thus, by extension, are responsible for both my charmed life and the good life I’ve made in adulthood. Saints and sages, heroes and adventurers–cheesy as its sounds, it’s no exaggeration to say I’ve surrounded myself with such people. That is one stroke of luck eclipsing all the other three, and perhaps responsible for at least the second and third lucky aspects of my life. And if I never get a chance to say it after this, I’ll say it now: It is for my friends, above all, that I am most profoundly grateful.

May God or good fortune (whichever you prefer) bless you as you have blessed me.

And that’s the main thing I have to say for today. Like I said, don’t get the wrong idea–I’m not planning on going anywhere anytime soon, and right now I’m in perfect health. It’s almost certain I’m going to stay that way. But *just in case*, I wanted to get that out so everyone would know how I felt if the unthinkable happened and I never got a chance to say.

Hmm…while we’re on the subject, though, I figure I might as well get this down in writing. So now that I’ve gotten my “testament” saved and uploaded for posterity, is there anything else I should consider while thinking of my own mortality? Well, just for now, I guess I can go over what I really wanna do before I die. Honestly…yet another reason I’m lucky: I’m not even 40 and I’ve already accomplished pretty much everything I could really ask for out of life. But before I pass over, here are a few things I wanna do:

1: Read the end of Berserk. At least I got to see Guts get off the boat, so that’s good enough.

2: Read the end of Girl Genius. At least I got to see Lucrezia kicked out of Agatha’s mind, so that’s something.

3: Finish up with Dragonar.

4: Publish my big project!

5: Play Front Mission 5.

6: Play Brigandine: Grand Edition.

I’ll probably add more as time goes on, we’ll see. But that should about do it for today, friends!

5 comments

  1. cormagravenstaff · · Reply

    Well you’ve certainly been a good influence on me over the years 🙂

    I love my weekly updates of how you’re doing, it makes me so happy to watch you succeed!

    1. Glad to see you again, my friend, and I hope you’ve been doing well too! 😀

  2. […] my friends. If it’s any comfort, though, this one is a little less directly personal than “Having Lived a Good Life.” Here, I’ll be giving my thoughts on death again, so it’s personal in that sense, but I […]

  3. […] Having Lived a Good Life […]

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