We Did Our Best

Your “best”. How many times throughout our lives have we looked back and asked ourselves, “Did I do my best?” Or, could I, should I, have done more? What impact has my involvement had on the many lives I’ve touched? What, where and who would they be today, if I were never here. And what about the ships in the night to whom I’ve shown kindness and then moved on, never to see them again. Did it matter?

I look upon our “best” as a mathematical equation:

Ability + desire + knowledge + judgment + energy + selflessness + empathy + kindness + courage + generosity = YOUR BEST.

Our best is always just that; our best, at that particular time. We could have done no better or no worse. It was… what it was. Suppose in looking back, we assigned a three-point score to each of the factors that compose our BEST; with 1 being low or lacking, 2 being acceptable, and 3 meaning excels! According to my equation, the very BEST I could ever do at any given time is a 30; in other words, scoring a 3 in each of the ten factors.

I thought about this yesterday afternoon as I walked under the growing storm clouds and over the hilly avenue to visit my daughter. As a Polish fellow, I’ve been told that we corner the market on depression. Add to that self-loathing and perpetual guilt, and you’ve just described my good days, haha! I wondered as I walked, if I would go to heaven or hell or purgatory when I die; and I thought, what is God’s equation? I’ve strayed quite far from the Catholic church, but I would be a fool to believe that this earthly life is not just a minuscule part of an enormous, infinite continuum.

So I thought, maybe in the equation of doing one’s best, at the end of your earthly life, a high score of 21 thru 30 gets you into heaven, while a low score of 1 thru 10 brings some serious wrath down upon your ass. Scoring in the middle gives you a do-over back here on earth again. Perhaps an 11 will find you reborn into a slum in Mumbai, while a 20 will get you into the Ginza district of Tokyo. Do you see the irony? The child in Mumbai will probably be much more motivated to raise his score, while perhaps the rich kid may be less inspired. Hmmm, I’m beginning to see a continuum within a continuum.

Me, I’m thinking I’ll probably be earth-bound, maybe forever. Maybe with each go-around we get better, or we get worse. I have been self-indulgent, lazy, tired and cowardly for much of my life. I objectively realize that I’ve sacrificed and made a constant conscious effort to raise my daughters with dignity and respect, and always tried to nourish their self-esteem. Yet, I haunt myself with the things I could have done better, like the many, many, many Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings when I wasn’t there for them because I chose wine and TV, or worse yet, wine and more wine. There are factors in the equation of BEST which we can throttle up or down in real-time and thus feel good or bad about; factors like selflessness and kindness and empathy. Other factors such as ability, knowledge and energy are somewhat out our immediate control.

If I’m being honest with myself, and I consider a net average of strengths and weaknesses throughout my 60 years of earthly living, I believe my BEST thus far has an average score of 19 out of 30:

ability3 + desire2 + knowledge2 + judgment2 + energy1 + selflessness1 + empathy1 + kindness2 + courage2 + generosity3

However, if I look at the wake of my life along with its remaining trajectory and what my BEST is like today, my score has elevated and will continue to climb most notably in selflessness, empathy, judgment and kindness. With age, comes wisdom and self-redemption.

However, should I remain at a 19, well then, I guess I’ll see some of you again on the next go-around. Peace, love, dove homies.

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