Wednesday, September 22, 2010


   Who gets to define what success is? I was in a conversation not too long ago and the topic turned to what is success. If I Google successful people, I come up with a wide variety of Thomas Edison bios, instructional material on How to Be a Success, and promos of How to be Successful Without a College Degree. Looking through the list, it is easy to see that the main qualification for success here is financial success or media success. But, is that really the end of the definition? Is that even a good definition?
   Is the mom who bakes 200 cupcakes for PTO a success as she puts every effort possible forth into raising her child? Is the entrepreneur who follows a dream and does not ever meet wealth a success? Is the artist a success for creating the art or for finding a buyer? Do you have to move to a foreign land to be a success? Do you have to make a certain amount of money; is there a minimum and cap to that? I was reading a biography about John Adams and I think that he phrased it quite well “The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they can never make him wise, virtuous or happy.” The laws of man, though he was referring to actual legal systems, are also composed of the unwritten rules. The rules of what society deems what is to be “normal”, “acceptable”, and “successful”. Those laws, they are often separating, divisive, and confusingly defined. If someone fails, how much success does it take to make up for that, to balance it back out? Why does that change for some and the scale seem weighted?
   So, I guess when it boils it down, what is distilled is I question what do I consider to be a success, for me to be a success. I think one reason why it is so hard for me to answer that is that there are multiple points trying to impress upon me their definition. Plus, my finish line seems to keep moving. I no more accomplish one thing and then feel like I need to jump to the next challenge. So with all of that rolling around in my head, it was a struggle to sleep, until I came upon a very short phrase that led me to turn off the light, snuggle into my blanket, and head to sleep. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28. My drive to achieve is part of me, it’s a persistence that has proved to be a boon when I have spent ten hours on an econ exam, when I didn’t want to take the next step, when I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. But, how sweet those words were, when after the trying and seeking and working and wearing out, “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Now that’s a definition I can live with.