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On Success

Tonight I had the bizzarre experience finding out that two friends from college divorced by reading it in a Huffington Post article. The article was not recent, nor the divorce. Admittedly, I had lost track of these friends over time.
She had been a good friend my first couple of years in college. I even went home with her and met her family on a couple of occasions. We bonded over our similar taste in music and our faith. I remember when she met her future husband, and the evenings we would spend hanging out at his job. But as time wore on we grew apart. She was a photography major and I was an art major and we both spent an immense amount of time in (different) studios at night. By the time we graduated we were social media acquaintances at best, and then I lost track of her completely.

Her ex-husband was the author of the article. It seems he has carved out a nice niche for himself as a writer in the past few years. The article was eloquent and well written. He seems happy now, so what else can be said? I hope she is as well.

I remember one evening they had slyly tried to set up with a mutual acquaintance. He was handsome and witty, but also bizzarre and pretentious, even by my holier-than-thou-pretentious-20-year-old-art-major standards. Needless to say, we were not a match. All of my future run-ins with this individual only served to reinforce that initial impression, and there was also some old story involving him stealing a shot gun from a mutual friend. Strangely, I was watching an episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives about a year ago and he popped up on it, the head chef and proprietor of some gastro-pub in in Philly.

This week, I was made aware that a friend of my husband is having a movie made about his life. Like, his actual life. And not a small film. One intended for wide release that will probably reach a national if not global audience. This individual is already by far the most successful person we know, at least by the measures this world values, and to be honest my husband and I had a few laughs at the expense of the whole project. I obviously can't go into any further detail, at the risk of divulging too much information (to like... the one person reading this?) but it is a bit eye-roll inducing. We love these people the movie will be about, but I can't not see the absurdity in it as well.

I promise these threads are connected. A published author, an accomplished chef (at least in Guy Fieri's questionable esteem), a friend who's life and accomplishments have been deemed worthy of a feature film.

(A classmate who was featured in the Whitney Biennial. A friend whose art is beginning to draw regional attention. Multiple friends who have had music featured on tv shows and movies. Etc, etc, etc)

It becomes easy to question my own success, especially if I measure it against the successes of others, but instead maybe I should question the nature of success itself.

Today I successfully made it out of bed, went to a job I enjoy, humble though it may be, and parented two children. I've done all of this while navigating the waters of chronic illness and special needs. My husband makes music he is proud of, and I am happy to support that. Most days I am comfortable with the simple and humble, some days I wish for more. Most of my goals now are much smaller in scale than when I was young.

One thing that has stuck with me though, in the past few years, is the idea that humans are creatures created for work. Toil is in our blood. It's not something I am great at. But I want to be better, to push myself, so that whatever small successes I have will be well-won. I may not reach glory, but I want to work, to have integrity in what I do, and find contentment in it.

I leave you with this, a song my husband can't shake these days, and I must say the lyrics have stuck with me as well:

The Wild Reeds - "Fruition"

[Verse 1]
I used to love excuses then I realized they play no part
In real life that's conducive to the dream which I work hard
To bring fruition, to finish in good light
And the laziness behind me wasted all my precious time

[Chorus 1]
I wasted all my precious time
Then I realized I'm not looking for happiness
I'm looking for work

[Refrain]
Oh, oh
Oh, oh

[Verse 2]
Check under the mats, behind the doors, and in-between
The alleyways and gutters that proclaim our lives less clean
If you're looking you won't find it so it's best to be content
With the shortcomings and fallouts we now look back and resent

[Chorus 2]
Oh, and I resent
When I realize I'm not looking for happiness
I'm looking for worth

[Refrain]
Oh, oh
Oh, oh

[Bridge]
If you expect something simple
Like love, or a song to
Bring you lasting happiness
Well you ought to try not to

For I've learned it's much harder
To pay attention, to work smarter
Through the life choices we make
You can't expect to make a mistake

I am not looking
For lasting happiness
For if it was there all the time, Dear
Then this world would be bliss

Would there be something missing?
Something missing from all of this?
What would make the good times good?
And the bad times necessary to get through?

I know I'll get there, I've been working harder
When I realized I wasted my time

[Solo]

[Refrain]
Oh, oh
Oh, oh

[Ending]
I'm only trying to make more minutes
If I could figure out how to stretch it
There'd be time for all the love
In the room

11:24 p.m. - 2017-07-18

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