Success

This morning I read a good article about success. I share the sentiments of the author, and I would like to kind of build upon what was said there in this entry. To summarize, the author basically was saying that he doesn’t live his life in a constant climb to the top. He feels he would have to compromise too many of his personal values to make more money and basically his dignity is more important than his paycheck. I think that is a fantastic attitude to have and I wish our society made it easier for good, honest people to find themselves in positions of power without having to lie, cheat, or steal to get there. Maybe then we’d have a government with less corruption. All I can do is speculate…
Anyhoo, I can definitely relate with my own experiences. I’m sure I have written this before in another entry, but I don’t think I have many (if any at all) regular readers, so I’m going to tell this little story again. I was once a promising young web developer, working my way to the top. I was only in the industry for 2 years, but my future looked bright. That is, until I started looking around at the upper level positions. I saw people working 10 hour days (plus travel time) and working under strict deadlines. What bothered me most is that these people had families, they had children at home. I wondered to myself, “when do these ‘successful’ people get to hang out with their kids?” If you have a family, how can one person manage the stress he/she encounters at work combined with the stresses of raising a family? It just seems like so much to juggle. I couldn’t imagine coming in to the same office every day, to do the same thing every day, all the while longing over when I will get to be with my family again. Sure there’s the weekends, but those are for cleaning and running errands. I asked myself, “do I really want to be successful?” So I decided I was going to quit. I was going to move to Florida and live with my mom and go back to school to pursue something I am passionate about. Well, 2 years after moving back, I am not in school, and I do not even know what my passion is, but not a day goes by where I regret making that decision.
Instead of going back to school I joined AmeriCorps, this way I could have new life experiences and earn some money to pay off my loans. I have learned so much. I love getting to work outside, it’s hard work, but at the end of the day I feel very good about what I have done. Working in the sun and fresh air is the most satisfying work ever, and I could be doing it for minimum wage and be happy as long as my bills are paid.
We should all know by now that money doesn’t buy happiness. I remember when I made more money, I always thought to myself “gee, I wish I had more money.” It’s never enough, no matter how much you have, you always want more. I remember I always had this longing for a future when I had a house, a family, and had paid off my student debt. As lovely as that dream is, the fact that I wasn’t there yet was constantly undermining any joy or happiness I was experiencing in the present. The reality of the situation was that my bills were paid, I had money for social activities, and I had a stable job and a decent apartment. I was doing pretty good, but the pressure I put on myself to do better was just too much. I was too impatient. I wanted more and I wanted it immediately. I’ve since stop putting all that pressure on myself. I live day to day. I really do think of every day as a gift.
I am a skeptical person so some might find it odd that I had my tarot cards read. To add to the oddness of it all, the tarot card reader was nude, I was nude, and my boyfriend was nude. Those are just some amusing details I threw in for entertainment, we were at a nudist retreat (yes, I do oddball things because I like to lead an interesting life). Anyways, no matter what the tarot cards were reading, the reader/pyschic/whatever you want to call her, was a great counselor of sorts. She was very good at reading people, and said a lot of good things to make my boyfriend and I think. I brought up to her my longing to have a stable home environment, and I told her that I was a child of divorce, so I had moved around a lot. She understood and she said something that really caused my perspective to shift. She said I should let go of that idea of home as this concrete ideal. Home is not somewhere where I have my things, home is relative to me. I thought about this and it all started to click, I keep seeking these external representations of happiness, when happiness is completely internal. It all seems like common sense, but for whatever reason I wasn’t in a position to be able to recognize it.
Think about it, if we are constantly coming up with these concrete definitions of happiness and success, we might overlook some of the better times in our lives because they aren’t packaged the way we imagined. Is life really about the job, the house, and the car? The notion that greed is good because it’s a motivator is completely shallow to me. Greed is the wrong motivator. People who are driven by greed are missing the point of life, which is not to get somewhere or gain something, but simply to live it.
Finally, one more thing that inspired this train of thought is the man who lives without money. I was disappointed when I read the comments and people called him a bum who isn’t contributing to society. Though he might not be directly putting money into the economy, he is still contributing in his labor. Money isn’t everything, and it is refreshing to see that only a small investment and some hard work is all it takes to reclaim your freedom from it. I understand the value of money in providing for a family, and I believe that is the only place it should have value. Money is food, shelter, and water, not self-worth. I like to think that this is all just me growing up and realizing that there are more important things in life, but sadly, I know that can’t be true because so many grown people still live their lives to the tune of the jingling coins in their pocket. In my world, success has no definition, it is not finite. Why live for tomorrow if it may not ever come? Success is today, it’s being.

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