Monday, August 15, 2011

What Is Success?

That's the question we all really care about, isn't it? Not so much the meaning of all life, but the meaning of our own lives, each our own, alone regardless how many people we surround ourselves with.

So how do we measure, and where do I stand?

I suppose I could take Maslow's example, and use his pyramid as a scoreboard.

At the bottom, broadest row, we have basic needs: food, shelter, breath, sexual fulfillment... Well, four out of five ain't bad, and I was given hands for a reason so might as well put them to good use.

Next up on the list are the "safety" needs: personal security, financial security, health and well-being, and a safety net, to catch me if I should fall. This one is a little more difficult, not so much as checking things off a list as gauging their strengths. Personal secruity, strong; financial security, mediocre; health, a little lower than mediocre but not quite poor; safety-net, strong. Clearly could be better, but not bad for the opportunities I've received.

Third comes social needs: friendship, intimacy, and family. The first I have little of, but what I do have is well-invested; if I needed someone to turn to for emotional support, I would find it. Intimacy is something I share among my friends, and what intimacy they share with me is the extent that I have; I have not had a lot of fortune when finding a sole person to take to the next level of intimacy. Family has become better since I moved out in all ways but one, and I truly feel that I am better off to be without that one; her successes have overshadowed my own for far too long, and now that we no longer stand on the same playing field I am much relieved.

Fourth is esteem. I like to think I'm doing pretty good with this one. I'm working a job that regularly challenges me, teaches me, and lets me teach others. It also allows me to work at a pace of my chosing so I can get my work completed to the best of my ability, and the people I work with appreciate those abilities and show that appreciation freely.

Fifth is the impossible one to truly gauge: self-actualization. The best I can say is that I'm getting there. My self-discoveries into my spirituality have helped me climb many of the steps this high in the pyramid, but I still have many more to go. I also need to achieve those few remaining items fewer back before I can truly and fully ascend this level.

Times have been rough, and sometimes easy. Times have been such that I have strode on ahead, refusing to look back, and moments that have lasted from mere seconds to long months have strived to break me down. Nonetheless, I am still here, and those who could not contribute positively are no longer welcome in my life. In some things there should be no second chances, and I in turn expect none.

I am fighting to keep growing and I invite you all to measuring your own standings and continue to fight for your own continued growth, though I will not ask any of you to bare your souls to the world as I have chosen. That choice is as highly personal as the choice of how to gauge your own soul.

As a Reverend whom I have come to highly respect, Dr. Lindsey Bates, says at the close of her sermons, I will wish you all her same words:
Go and be peace.