Updated: Mar 28, 2019
I will never be successful. There I said it. I mean it. I will NEVER be successful. No matter what I do or what I attain, I will never be successful. I look up at the stairs that need to be climbed, and
I know that I'll never be a success. They say if I work hard and make a difference I will attain success. They say keep climbing, keep driving, keep pushing, give it your all and never give up.
They, first of all who is "they" anyway? They mean it when they say it. They point to people who have done it. Those people are the ones to look up to and to strive to be like when we, or in this case I, grow up. But no matter what I do I will never be a success.
Look at the picture again. I love this shot. I'm bias because I took it. Even if I hadn't, I am sure I'd love it. Does it seem endless, or does it look to stop? I can tell you that it only goes up 6 floors. So this picture is not of a stairway to the proverbial heaven but 60 some odd feet up inside a 100-yr old (or older) building. What happens when I reach the top? A roof is over my head. Have I "reached it" as they (again, who are they?) say? The building this pic was taken in has a giant deck off the top floor. What if I was out there? Would I call it success? Especially if I look at the building next to me that has 10 floors. I will never be successful.
You see, people talk about success as if it is this solid thing like a very real destination. In all truthfulness, it isn't at all. Success is fluid. It is ever changing, and it is subjective to each of us. No matter how high we climb, once we get there, we want to climb higher. We want to see the roof. We want to climb the next building with the 10 floors and then the next with the 20 floors. We want to stand out on the deck and take over the next space and then the next. Each time thinking
success is just conquering that next thing. Wouldn't it be grand to own that factory blowing all the smoke/steam into the sky? How about climbing that mountain to prove that human strength and determination has no equal? Maybe just making it across the land to the other side as far as the soul can take us. Or even being over it all, flying high in the sky? It is funny that word success.
I remember seeing something on the street as my friend and I walked from the coffee shop back to the old building where the stairs were located. As we walked by this pretty nice apartment complex, all over the ground were playing cards. I stopped and looked at them, and then thought
of the picture when I started thinking of this blog. Why? Well, because they represent success to me. In this picture there are 2 Aces, 2 Kings, 1 Queen, 1 Jack, 1 Ten and 3 cards face down. The Aces are the highest card in the deck (sans the Joker depending on the game), followed by the King, Queen, Jack, 10 and then the unknown cards. To any other single number, being a 10 would be amazing, but here a 10 is the lowest card we see. If it was a 5 on the ground, it would probably find achieving the level of "10" to be successful. What happens when it becomes a 10 and finds that the "top floor" isn't actually the top? It can be a Jack or a Queen or even a King and, gasp, an Ace. But, if you look at the picture, even though the Ace is the highest, it is still on the ground with the rest. Success is relative. The Ace of Spades may be the biggest, baddest card in the deck for a game of Spades but inside the box it is still just one of 52 cards. There is an interesting thing about the Ace. In a game of Gin Rummy, the Ace can be either the highest card in the deck (15 points, I believe) or the lowest (5 points) depending on where it is played. See, when I was on the 6th floor of that building, I was the highest. I was in the penthouse. But the moment I stepped out on that balcony, I was low again. What happened to my success?
That Ace represents how we see life: as a constant battle to gain something new. No matter how many times we make it, the level we called "successful if I can get to that point" we will never be happy. There will always be something more that now "needs" to be done. Think about it for a second. You ever tell yourself, "Why not do this now that I've gotten this far?" When we are looking up at something it is easy to imagine that reaching that goal will be successful, but we often are looking at a new thing as soon as the level is reached. This is why I will never be successful. It isn't a thing. It isn't real. It is a word written on the sand of the coast right after the wave rushed back into the sea. For a minute it's vibrant, legible, understandable and even shiny, but within seconds it will be washed over, and it will disappear. Nothing like success.
I will never be successful, but I don't have to be. I just have to learn to see the world and myself in the right light. See what I did there? Picture of street lights and I dropped the "in the right light" on you. That sounds funny and witty to me. Yup, I just pointed it out too. But in all seriousness, this image was taken as my biz partner and I were headed to a seminar to learn ways to improve our business, portfolios and offerings. You know, "how to be more successful" type stuff. Life is very interesting when it puts these little lessons right in front of your face providing you are willing to see them. Why does this image represent my point? I'm glad you asked.
We look at success as climbing the ladder or getting to the mountain top (or in this case hilltop). In this picture, the road is pretty clear. I have nothing to keep me from reaching the very top of this hill. Well, with the exception of 6 sets of red lights holding me in place. In all honesty I could run those and make it to the top quicker. Would I be successful once I reached the top? Will it be over? Will I have finally made it? In the simplest answer it would be yes. Yes, I made it to the top. Yes, I achieved the goal I was gunning to achieve. Yes, even though I cut corners (by running the red lights) no one got hurt and I am where I want to be: at the top. That is success. Now, what if all those lights had cameras on them? Two weeks later I receive 6 tickets for 200 bucks each? Will that trip be a success? Then there is the other side of that hill. As with every completed journey a new one is ready to start at the next green light. Success is right there in your hand like sand where you can feel it, hold it but it is still pouring out slowly. It is forever fleeting. I will never be successful.
Let's look at the picture again. We climb up slowly to the next stop or light. Sometimes the road is clear. Sometimes the road is jam packed and people are honking horns and flipping each other off. At each stopping point we have a chance to appreciate the very thing we just attained. It is about looking forward but also about looking backwards to enjoy where we came from and what we did to get to this point. And just like the red car coming down the hill we must know that "success" is subjective. To the people in that red car it was finding the freeway; that was their successful moment. Perspective is a grand thing, I always say.
I have one more picture to share for this blog. I have to kind of set it up though. My good friend and I were walking around the track at the local high school where I have dance fitness classes for the teachers a few days a week. While walking and talking we make a point to check out the clouds and see what shapes and images the sky is sharing for us. Let me go off topic for a second: when was the last time you looked at the sky and saw what the clouds were making? There is a great joy in remembering small things we once loved as kids. Ok, back to the regular blog...
So as my friend I walked around we saw something big fly low from one tree to another right above a house down the road. We look at each other and decide to walk and see what bird that was we saw. Now, there is a familiar sound when a bird of prey is in a tree that is off limits by the other birds. We hear the squawking of angry birds and we get excited because we know exactly why the birds are pissed. As we walk down the small road we see the familiar white tail of this
guy or gal for that matter. With a cellphone and a zoom lens I stood in the middle of the street trying to capture this beauty. What does this have to do with success? Well if you google #Baldeagle and look at the images you will see amazingly clear, crisp and perfect photos of these great birds. For me, this is a great picture but for a professional it is decent or good at best. If I sent this to you, would you be happy to see it? According to my friends, it's a great shot. According to me, it's a great shot. For me and my friend, our adventure is a great success. Yet, I took about 50 pictures to share this one. I snapped, snapped, and snapped as my camera swayed and the bird came in and out of focus. Oh and I was fighting the sunlight in my eyes too.
This shot reminds me, happily I should add, that I'm not successful. I am grateful. I am humbled. I am enjoying one step at time in a life that has exactly one finish line. I'll never be successful because I won't chase success. The fountain of youth flows with fool's gold and so does "success." Be happy with every red light, every step closer you take, and the fact that you are alive today, which is a success all in itself.