On the Subject of Success

I

It’s a question of how you want to spend your time. Which is a big question.

In my head I see the idolization of icons who worked tirelessly day and night year after year. But, to put this in modern terms, this doesn’t look like a healthy work-life balance.

Everyday there will be a choice. Maybe you really do want every morning to be a slow morning. What if every morning was a slow morning in which you could watch the sun rise and smell the coffee brewing, the aromas of a warm breakfast being cooked on the stove? Could you be content with that choice if it meant you chose not to do other things instead?

Ok, maybe this would be an easy choice, but given “the rest of life,” it doesn’t feel like there’s a choice because how you spend your mornings involve responsibilities that, if not fulfilled, can make you and others very unhappy.

Maybe you have a family to feed. Maybe you have chores to complete. Maybe you live in a commune. Maybe I’m not clear on who my audience is. 

Either way, it’s likely you had the question of how you spend your time answered for you as a child, while as an adult, you might wake up one morning realizing you had yet to answer such a basic but all-encompassing question.

How do you want to spend your time (given the time that has not already been allotted to something else)… ?

II

It’s a matter of perspective.

We’ve seen a wealth of biopics looking into the lives of great men and women, and for the audience, there is the task of sussing out the legacy from the life.

Each person has a unique mind and psychology. What makes one person happy might not make another happy. Or how one spends one’s time might not have been for the sake of happiness.

Or, looking at modern times, maybe we are not seeking happiness anymore because it’s too evasive of an idea. Maybe we are content with chasing a feeling. Maybe it’s all a matter of psychology.

What if it’s become a matter of idolatry or idealization of one’s life. We tell ourselves stories about ourselves through the lens of social media. We look at somebody else’s legacy and draw comparisons to our own lives. We might even be fully aware that part of one’s audience is oneself.

Yes these stories can be comforting or just a bit of fun. But it creates an interface between oneself and the idea of one’s life.

Even though life is not a mere idea.

III

It’s not a matter of discipline.

Or discipline is an approach but not the end goal. Of course there are exceptions. You might want the discipline as apart of how you see yourself. Discipline in this case would be an idea.

It could also be an integral part of getting to the end goal. It could be your approach to achieving some meditative state. For many it is difficult to achieve a meditative state without first carrying on an activity that leads one there.

Maybe, for some, this is success. The work itself. Or achieving some state of mind.

But this brings me back to that first question. How do I want to spend my time? Is the work itself enough?

Or am I looking for a payoff… any payoff just to stay motivated … because the dream of that ephemeral idea of success is such a great idea. What drives me to do the work really? Do I only want to feel like I am on the path toward achieving something bigger and greater than myself?

Is it only a matter of ambition and obsession?

Looking back in hindsight, I can (fortunately) say that these two elements of my psyche have lessened and I am looking for value in the end goal.

I am looking for something that is more than an idea.

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