“Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!” – Ralph Waldo Emerson. Mr. Emerson nailed it! I believe he has a mixed definition, however; one definition of living your life and the other shade of the definition being success; or are they in fact one in the same? Is to live, to succeed? I would say yes. Before we define success I think we should define living. Living is much more than a biological system of integrated parts working together with functional roles allowing us humans to walk, breathe, eat, and sleep.
As we all know, sometimes these systems fail and result in an individual without some of the abilities that many of us often take for granted, such as walking or even breathing on our own. But living is not simply the anatomy and physiology or even the genetic makeup of a person. Simply, living is being aware. Knowing the varied and wonderful gifts that we have, from breathing to making music. Acknowledging purpose in our lives and the true essence of our calling to fulfill that purpose. I have found that the things that bring the most song to my heart are the talents and gifts that I have, and I have also found that they bring joy to other people.
This is a truth that astonishes me.
These are just things that I like to do, how can they help someone? It doesn’t seem like you are doing something for another person when you are writing lyrics at your band’s practice space in a basement somewhere, but when you see a person shouting those words back to you, as you sing them into a microphone in front of a crowd, with enthusiasm that rivals your own, you know you’ve had an effect. It’s when someone walks up to you and says that your words found resonance in their lives, that you find you’ve been helping other people by pursuing your own passion. Isn’t that interesting? Doing some of the things that I love most, can help someone else. How then can we say that we have no purpose? There is something that ignites a spark and an excitement in all of us, and acting upon that catalyst not only brings us great joy but can potentially, and likely, help someone else.
We can take this one step further and use what we do best to purposely put ourselves in a position that allows us to lift the fallen, to encourage the weakened, or to feed someone that’s hungry. So now, with our definition of living in place, let me try to define success just as Mr. Emerson did. Success is to use our talents and our gifts to help another person: Build a home, have their bellies fed, access parasite-free water, smile, laugh, cry, freely be human in our presence, enjoy our company, find faith in themselves, find faith in their faith, learn how to sing, learn how to walk, see their dreams become reality (no matter how big or how small), and to instill in them one major truth, they matter. This is to succeed, but more, this is to live.