I’m back at work now. It took me like an hour and a half just to look at all the email that accumulated yesterday. It’s amazing how much you miss by being away for just one day. Fortunately, my colleagues are a very competent set of individuals, and I think everything’s under control.
The funeral was sad but lovely. It’s such a shame when someone dies so young, and especially when it’s someone who has done so many good things for the world and would have surely continued on that path. The message the priest emphasized was to be an organ donor, because the donated liver Jim received continued his life for a few extra years. That’s certainly a valuable point, but I think it’s equally important to extend the metaphor to generosity in general. My friend John gave a very moving eulogy, in which he quoted his father’s belief that hard work will only take you so far; sometimes people just need a little help.
I’m not quite sure what I’ll do specifically to incorporate that into my own life. I feel like it’s important that I embrace lesson, and it seems like there must be myriad opportunities. It’s so easy to say, “Yes, but we’ve got the wedding coming up; I’ll donate money in the fall.” Still, I have 20 bucks in my wallet right now that’s not doing a damned thing; it’s just odds-and-ends cash in case I need to run to Osco or something. What a luxury to have a spare 20 bucks in this world.
Jim was a wealthy man, but he would have been a lot wealthier if he’d been greedy. He passed his values of generosity on to his children, and I have benefitted from that many times. They too would be richer monetarily if they didn’t have such generous spirits, but it seems like it must be worth it. With every generous act they perform, they continue to enhance their reputations as kind, giving people. That seems like it’s worth the investment, especially considering the old goes-around-comes-around nature of this world.
I don’t believe in karma or cosmic justice in a supernatural sense; I think that overall, things happen at random in the universe. I had a conversation with an old friend once that made me so angry. Several years ago (gosh, it must have been ten years now), a group of friends were traveling together, and two of them got into an accident and died. This seriously messed up the living situation of the surviving friend, who was planning to rent an apartment with one of the deceased. An aquaintance came to the rescue and rented the apartment with him, and the two of them became great friends.
So I was talking to the guy, the acquaintance-turned-friend who stepped in. He was waxing about the great friendship they now have, and he said, “Everything happens for a reason.”
What??? That seriously offended me. Was he saying that there was some great cosmic purpose for the horrible deaths of two bright young men, and that purpose was so that he could be friends with someone? There was nothing stopping him from getting to know the guy before or after. I’m glad that something positive came out of the situation, but to say that it was the reason for the deaths just sickens me.
So yeah. I don’t believe in fate or karma or “everything happens for a reason.” But I do believe that if you live a life filled with acts of kindness and generosity, you will accumulate friends who are all the more likely to help you out when you need it.
I am by no means perfect in this area. I have been unkind, impatient, and stingy too many times. But I am going to make an effort to emulate Jim, both to honor his memory and to improve myself and the world.