Sunday, October 11, 2009
Fall Musings: What is Failure? Success?
Beth, Helen, Kathy, Sandra, Enid and Lynda made me think about how every time the seasons turn it is a opportunity for reflection on a life's course, past, present and future. This time of year when the ground goes fallow is especially conducive to contemplating the past. Not only the past, but what it means for the present and the future. And though the past is gone, it still impacts our behaviors and attitudes today. And while judging our experiences is a bit of a folly, still it's human.
But I've discovered that in judging the past, I'm continually...wrong. Which brings us to the topic. Because, what is failure? Success? It might seem easy to say, "I wish I'd been a bestseller with my first novel and therefore I'm a failure." Except that my first novel was written when I was 11 and much of it was written in colored markers. Now I believe that attempt was a success--certainly I knew I had the passion and discipline to write at an early age! And who can know what a "success" might bring?
And what is success? Again, the definition shifts like fine sand in a loosely grasping hand. I grew up in a posh ski resort and rubbed my hand-me-down Kmart coat elbows with the children of the rich and famous and "successful." And while having money is quite useful--still I'll never forget my friend who could never be without her nanny's supervision (we couldn't go outside often--fear of kidnappers) and who had never tasted peanut butter (chef didn't approve).
I suppose we'd all agree that failure is when we hurt someone, a successful life is when we leave the world a little better off for us being in it--but what about the less important aspects? For me, I count successes when I remain true to my writing passion and true to the love I feel for friends and family. I count when I forget those truths as my failures.
How about you? What do you see as past failures? Successes? Or perhaps more importantly, how has your perceptions changed over time of what might be a success or failure?