“I arise full of eagerness and energy, knowing well what achievement lies ahead of me.”
— Zane Grey

I’ve written in the past that I have three major goals that I want to accomplish in the 24 hours that I’m accountable for each day. First, I want to wake up with my wife and sons safely under the same roof. Second, I want to rest assured that the same three are safely falling asleep under that same roof. Finally, I don’t go to sleep each night until I’ve formulated a goal or a plan for the next day. Generally it’s nothing extravagant and usually something so simple that they are barely negligible to others unless they knew what my personal objectives are which for the most part, I keep to myself. Oftentimes they invoke the simplest thought of reaching out in some kind and productive manner to someone whose path I come across who might take something away from such an interaction. As part of that goal, and an even greater challenge, is to openly allow someone to reach out to me and then leave that exchange with something tangible that has bettered my day. It’s usually not difficult once I eliminate the complexity of my expectations and let my soul play a larger part in the determination of what I’ve shared and thereafter, whatever I’ve received in return.

It’s best to elaborate on this topic by what I’ve recognized and have to remind myself as I begin each day. The most important thing I’ve essentially eliminated from my lexicon is the fascination with the idea of “karma”. I figure that if “bad people” continually cheat, do immoral or even criminal things to satisfy their desires, the law of averages generally catch up with them at some point and they have to answer to some authority for such practices. When that occurs, they end up paying for the consequences of their actions at a level that no amount of remorse or regret will ever fully mollify those who suffered from them. Taking liberties with words of a U2 song, I don’t like leaving things up to “karma” when I’d rather take care of those things first on my own! Lacking pacifism, I’m not one to rely on “fate” or “karma” as the great equalizers on matters that I can rectify through the exercise of my own capabilities.

Now to “karma” serving as the center point for how the accumulation of our good actions will be eventually rewarded if our expectations are not met at the outset. If that mindset is needed to fortify the quality of someone’s further benevolence, then it would be irresponsible to discourage that approach because the potential end result is still extrinsically fruitful and should be applauded.

But again removing “karma” from my thought process, I’ve adjusted my mentality following my injury because of where I began and what I had available to begin with when thinking back to those early days. I guess when stripped down to basic resources with a lot of time to appreciate them, I became much more aware of certain simple truths (at least to me) that formulated a more fluid, albeit elementary, pathway to satisfying some understandable objectives.

I was certainly thankful of what I still had left as opposed to what could have been taken from me so I feel a lot of gratitude about that along with gratitude for most people and things around me. I’m certain that’s why I became more expressive of the happiness and kindness that circled within my whole being to the point I felt I’d explode if I didn’t express it – I still feel that way if you can’t tell.

But I realized something to counter whatever rewards I used to expect in return for my actions and it is this: the kindness and happiness coupled with the actions shared are the rewards and THAT IS IT – NOTHING MORE! I do not expect or demand anything beyond that because how can I ask anything other than the peaceful communication of the wealth within my soul with my spirit, mind, and body? Anything in addition in response is just a welcome benefit or perk that I am thankful for as I reflect upon all things at the end of the day! If I share a smile, the reward is that I have a genuine reason to smile and if that’s the return, who am I to demand something that complicates the feelings behind that smile by including additional demands. I think we can agree there are fewer greater emotions and expressions than those based on genuine love for someone or something. The complexities occur as we struggle with the “how’s”, “what’s”, and “why’s”, behind what we believe we should receive in return. I guess the best advice is to never get to far away from the basic reasons behind those feelings and expressions because it’s easy to lose track of them due to our penchant for setting forth conditions on the expected return on the exchange. “True love” of anything is so wonderful because of the instantaneous and intrinsic gifts it provides! After that we essentially have to navigate through love on our own through its evolving complexities without hopefully losing its essential makeup. For me, I find it easier to recognize and add up the consistent simple gestures that come my way rather than rely on mandated grand gestures to measure the return on the affection I invested. That’s just me though since I’m easily confused these days.

As I get to the end, I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to Deb since she won an unexpected (at least in her view) award in New York for Corporate Social Responsibility from an industry group, Women in Toys. Deb explained it to me and the boys what the award was about but once she said there was no money involved in the award and didn’t include us for a shout out in her acceptance speech, our interest gradually waned. Just kidding (well kind of) but it’s essentially for the non-profit and philanthropic work she does as part of her job at Mattel which is so multifaceted that the family has lost track or forgot what it all entails. But here’s the point! In talking with Deb about this particular acknowledgement of her efforts, she’s so humble about it because like I’ve alluded to above, the actual reward for the work she does is the kindness and generosity she honestly feels that are behind the actions that resulted in this award as well others before this one. I see (and she might too) the recognition she so rightfully receives are just the perks for essentially being the person she is and doing the most exquisite and correct things with the job that she has and for that my friends, she deserves applause!

I’ll end with reference to a story I mentioned before when Christian told me “Dad, I feel really good about myself… I don’t know why, I just do!” When we get to that stage for whatever organic reasons, I think we just need to enjoy it, share it without any expectations, and be thankful that for however long it lasts, we got to experience and express it! Karma, if you believe it exists, is not obligated to reward you for anything beyond that because that is a gift in itself.