“If I had a message to my contemporaries it is surely this: Be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success. If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live. If you have learned only how to be a success, your life has probably been wasted.” - Thomas Merton
Success, which is such a subjective word is often contextualised by our cultural paradigm and viewed through the lens of our current social expectations. In the west success is often measured by the McDonaldisation principles of efficiency, calculability, predictability and control, (ref: George Ritzer). While these ideas are a legitimate business measure they can tend to eat away at the soul of true and genuine success.
Money, possessions, fame, prestige, and popularity often fool us into believing we are blessed or favoured from on high, rather than it just being the result of a certain biological inheritance, indigenous privilege, or just plain hard work. And for some, their lack of quantifiable success can just be put down to a series of bad breaks that often equate to the idea that their life is cursed?
The true measure of success is seen in our genuine and authentic social interaction as it pertains to a deep and meaningful pathos for humanity. This can only be realised in our life as we learn to be comfortable and content in our own skin, patient with our ongoing evolution. You are never more successful than you are right now, not judged by previous failures whatever they were.
The common cliche, 'the best is yet to come' fails us on every level. After all who really knows what the future holds, we might be living our very last and best moment TODAY. My success is a day to day work in progress, however long that work lasts.
Success does need us to legitimise its meaning based on so-called cultural assumptions. It is our silent partner who serves us and does not ask or demand us to serve her. She has high hopes and low expectations, and is not over demanding or disappointed when we fail to meet the overrated standards of public perception.
While sitting in a cafe in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I saw this statement blazoned on the shop wall.. 'Work hard in silence, let your success be your noise' My life emits an echo that hopefully silences all the other sounds that try to demand my attention and force me to live in a way that is disingenuous. In other words, let the success of your life be measured by the true sound of contribution that enables your humanity to bring meaningful harmony to all those around you