When your next birthday is going to be your sixty-fifth one, It is time to admit you have seen more birthdays than you will be seeing. It is only natural to ask the question, “Have I been a good enough man?” It is, of course, a question that can be asked prior to any birthday, but when a man is in his 60’s it often gets asked with a greater sense of urgency. That would be me.
Let me think about some reasons why asking this question might be a good idea.
I can figure out if there is something I might have forgotten to get around to doing to be good enough.
I can make a list of things I want to avoid doing in order to maintain a good-enough man status.
I can assess if there is any way to undo what I have done that might keep me off a good-enough men list.
The challenge is how to come up with criteria for declaring myself to be a good enough man.
Have I saved enough for my retirement? Have I saved enough that when I die, my heirs will be less sad I am gone?
Have I changed the oil in my car recently? Have I rotated the tires?
Have I gotten my will in order? Have I made it plain how I want my body to be disposed of when I no longer need it?
Have I spoken to all the people I have said I never wanted to speak to again?
Have I gone through all of my junk and thrown out what nobody, but I might ever have any use for?
Have I responded to all outstanding warrants, paid off any and all parking tickets? (Actually, I have never been arrested for anything. I just referred to possible warrants to sound a little badass.)
Have I stopped all my addictions?
Have I figured out if there is anything I can do while I am still alive that might affect anything that might happen to me after I die?
Have I told everybody that I love that I love them?
Have I done enough of the things that might be awesome if I did them? Have I gone to enough places I always wanted to go to?
Do I have enough photographs, art work, writing samples, or other forms of immortality set aside? At least enough for a decent display at my funeral.
Have I earned enough degrees, training certifications, employee-of-the-month awards?
Have I gotten all my passwords together? Are they of adequate security strength?
Have I caught up on all of my bills?
Have I gotten around to telling the assholes that have done me wrong, what I think of them? (Okay, I don’t think of disagreeable people that way anymore. I’m too old for that).
Am I remembering to take all my medications as prescribed?
Have I lost enough of that extra weight?
If you answered yes to all these questions, would you be a good man? If not, why not? What is on your check list?
If you fall little or a lot short of being a good man, you can earn points for trying, but only if you have tried your best. Unfortunately, the only way of knowing that you have tried your best is knowing that you have worked at your good man goals to the point of absolute exhaustion marked by the beginning of a physical or emotional breakdown. No fair blaming someone else for you falling short.
A different way to approach the good-enough man question is to ask if the universe has gotten adequate service out of you as a man?
What about the universe needed improvement that you contributed to and was it enough? One way to find out is to ask. I have yet to hear an answer back when I ask the universe, but you might.
I used to tell myself frequently, that I wasn’t doing enough. It was a big part of what kept me going and going and going.
I use to take inventory from time-to-time as to the universe’s ability to provide pleasure and control evil. It seemed there was always a good deal of room for improvement no matter what I did or didn’t do.
I often humbly accepted that it would take time and the efforts of many men to rid the universe of evil and make pleasure production more reliable.
Lately, I have given up. It seems to me that the universe is already a source of infinite beauty, without much need for me to make improvements. It seems like evil is just the stuff from which the good grows from and returns to, on and on, ever changing, forever.
I can’t prove it, but I can’t prove the universe needs me to fix it either.
As a man, living in an infinitly beautiful universe, the heavy lifting involves trying to take it all in. I have my limits there. I am no match for infinite beauty. It has gotten to the point that I have started looking forward to dying to get some rest from it all. For now, I am working on increasing my capacity for beauty consumption.
I don’t quite get how this change in thinking came about. It just did.
I didn’t win a lottery. I got diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, I had to stop working, that might have something to do with it.
I don’t quite get why I am more motivated to work toward being able to check as many good man boxes as I can, now that I believe I don’t need to.
Evil seems more evil than before. I am more, not less interested in defining it and addressing it.
I spend less time staring off into space, now that I spend more time with meditation, including meditation on the universe’s perfection.
Living in the United States of America, is to live in a land rich in a history of men surviving and thriving on the edge of civilization. The frontier mentality prevails. There remains great interest in exploring the deepest seas and the furthest reaches of space. There is great support for smashing stuff into its tiniest bits to better understand it. The USA is a world leader in finding more and more fascinating ways to kill people and to be more precise as to who we kill. We keep thousands of weapons of massive destruction around just in case we might need them and get pissed off at any other country that might want to join in such collection.
In this way of thinking, the universe is an endless frontier in need of exploiting and controlling. To be a good man is to be caught up in the fray.
Surviving an asteroid strike, cosmic radiation spikes, an expanding sun, pesky black hole gravitational pulls, seems daunting, but given enough men and enough time something will get figured out. Give me a break.
If I were to suggest that I have come to believe that perceiving the universe as perfect and eternally changing, no matter what a man or men do, you might ask how does that help me keep the lawn mowed and the rent paid? I used to think the same way.
I thought of speculating on the nature of what it all means and my role in it as little more than entertaining, sitting around a campfire talk. I now think otherwise.
Good men can waste a lot of good time and energy worrying if they are doing good enough. This waste limits how much good they can do. Good men can be so full of themselves being able to do the right thing, that they do the “right thing” in the wrong situation and make a mess of it.
In a universe in need of help, an overgrown lawn means being a bad neighbor. A good man needs to do what he has got to do even if he doesn’t want to.Thoughts of wanting to let the grass grow free must be beat down, along with the bitterness of knowing that the grass will only grow back.
I need to struggle to refrain from buying things I don’t need and properly curse myself when I do, in order to pay the rent on time. I use to think that visions of needing to struggle would keep me on course. In the perfect universe, when it comes time to mow the lawn, I just mow it.
I have moved into awareness that buying something I don’t need is in part a way to elevate my mood regarding the fear of not having enough money. Believing that the universe will shelter me, gets me the rent money with less effort.
Being a good enough man, because I am an inseparable part of the good-enough universe feels weird. I thought good enough needed to be earned with great struggle. The struggle now is to feel better knowing that this just isn’t so.
I don’t know if I’m capable of knowing that I am a perfect man in a perfect Universe, but it sort of seems that way. Once I make the leap that what looks like shit in the universe is always actually fertilizer, I’m there. If I can’t be there all the time, that sounds perfect to me as well.
I suggest you take some time to play with ideas about how you might conduct yourself if you believed that the universe was perfect, eternal, ever-changing, infinitive and you were an inseparable part of it.
Personally, I don’t care what you believe. I have no products to sell you. I am not recruiting for a cult.
They only thing I want is for you to keep visiting goodmenproject.com to feed your curiosity as to what it means to be a good man.
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