Thursday, October 12, 2017
Leaving his mark
He's Stephen Paddock — and in case you've forgotten, Stephen Paddock was the guy who brought an arsenal to his Las Vegas hotel room and shot all those people at the country music concert. He would have been quite upset had he anticipated you would forget his name so quickly, consigning him to a broad category of "mass shooters."
I think I understand his supposedly mysterious motive: Paddock was 64, rapidly approaching that magical age of 65 when many men believe their lives are effectively over. It's a time when we older gentlemen are likely to observe that our greatest accomplishments are behind us — and not especially memorable. Most of us greet that observation with a shrug and a sigh.
Stephen Paddock's accomplishments at 64 actually were admirable. Starting as a low-level postal clerk, he rose to become a comfortably wealthy landlord and investor who was enough of a high-roller to earn comps at various Nevada casinos. He should have been satisfied with the arc of his life, but he was one of those poor suckers who found his late-life existential crisis especially irksome.
If you want to leave a mark on history, it's a lot easier to do it as a monster than as a hero or a saint. All it takes is one especially heinous act (preferably record setting) to "win" your place in the books.
I can think of another old man with an unhealthy desire to leave his mark on the world. He has no great regard for how he does so as long as he's the "winner" — and he's a man who controls a much larger arsenal than Stephen Paddock did. Let's hope somebody can stop him from making his existential crisis into ours.