The kids sit there. From tiny plastic chairs, with giant eyes, they hear they can be whoever they want, they can have whatever they want. And I think I want to grow up to be all of them. And I wish we told them they are everything they want, they have it all. And I wonder what they’d want us to be. Astronauts and doctors, lawyers and professional athletes, the sandbox, the chalkboard, the folded, hand-written notes, the questions, not the answers.
Success in the moment of achievement, the win, has all the characteristics of any good addiction. It hits you, making you feel like the most powerful person in the world, and the only person in the world, your world. All your work, time, and sacrifice is justified. You did it, and it feels great. But then it begins to fade. You don’t even notice it at first. But that feeling is barely there. It’s as if a balloon was inflated to create a plaster model. Over time the balloon has deflated inside the permanent plaster walls of what it was, creating empty space that never existed before the plaster was set. But the model remains unchanged, its emptiness going unnoticed as it longs to be filled again. When the rush of achievement is gone, your mind is busy—half way between remembering that feeling and planning the next one.
I was born to believe happiness exists in achievement, i wonder how many times I’ll fail before I know that happiness exists as much there as in success.
Failure strips away every artificial preoccupation. Losing brings into focus the world as it is, that is your environment, people, and your self. As the things you’ve invested in inevitably do not return on their investment, you’re forced to consider your resources, that is time, love, and attention. The greatest opportunity of failure lies in reconciling the two, the world as it is and your resources. There is no better proof of this than in your greatest of failures, death.
I’ve been lucky enough to have enjoyed some success, but maybe more fortunate to have experienced a good deal of failure. And failure has taught me infinitely more than success ever has.
I think the ironic finality of this logic is that success and failure are just personal perceptions of our manipulations, meaningless without the purpose we give them. And that when we stop trying to control the world for our gain, we can appreciate it and find contentment outside any of our goals. Not to say that we shouldn’t set goals, try to succeed, and contribute, but just that we should realize whether we get there or fail trying is not important.