A couple of observations are in order before I get to the main topic of this post. The first is that I am both deeply religious and introspective by nature, so at age 52 -- "gia' descendendo l'arco di miei anni," in the words of Dante -- and as I begin to have to deal with some of the aches and pains which I refer to as "gentle reminders of my mortality," I spend more time than I used to thinking about the meaning of my life, what I have accomplished (if anything), and how I will fare when one day I have to answer to God for what I have done with it. I already know that I am not, and never will be, anyone's poster-boy for worldly success, and that scattered along the course of my journey there have been foolishness, mistakes, sins, embarrassments, and assorted blunders a-plenty. But I can also hope, with some degree of assurance, that when I am gone, those I leave behind will at least give me credit for having been decent, kind, honest, well-intentioned, and willing to learn from my mistakes. I hope they will also agree that I appealed to the better and nobler instincts of the people I knew, befriended, and loved -- just as those people did for me, I might add; that I appreciated virtue, excellence, and beauty wherever I found them; and that I at least tried to be a faithful Latter-day Saint, and to do my duty before God as I saw it. If all of that happens, I suppose I won't have too much to regret, in spite of everything else. (Perhaps I should listen once again to Elder Robert D. Hales's General Conference talk this morning; according to him, I probably spend too much time wringing my hands over the past. But that's another matter.)
The second, which came to mind as I read the article I will be posting in a moment, is that for all the mistakes I've made, I have also managed to do a few things unquestionably right. One of these was that I reserved sex for marriage, even though I did not tie the knot until about three weeks before my 34th birthday. I told a friend once that this was not the easiest thing I have ever done, nor was it the most difficult; but it was definitely one of the best things I have ever done. (Parenthetically, I realize that a lot of people whom I hold in high regard are unable to make this claim, and I am not here to condemn or pass judgment on any of them. I doubt that I would have passed this particular test of virtue myself, had I not, at an early age, embraced a religious faith which incorporated a strict moral code. The possibility of excommunication or disfellowshipment has, in my case, acted as a very powerful deterrent, although I should add that my desire and appreciation for such things as trust, spiritual fulfillment, and association with women I could respect have also served as an equally powerful incentive.)
Yet another hat-tip to Julie, at Happy Catholic, is in order for bringing this article to my attention. It concerns Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy magazine, and his obsessions about his own personal legacy, such as it is, as he approaches his 80th birthday. My life has by no means been perfect; but even so, I don't think I would care to trade mine for his.