Posts Tagged ‘Accomplishments’

As I wander down the path of life, the urge to gauge my progress is a part of the journey.

How far along am I? How’s the trip going? Are my supplies holding out? Is this the right path?

Success is a more mercurial measure.  Advancing to the next level is part of the simplest game.  I tend to judge my life the same way.  Maybe it’s just me, but the rites of passage serve as milestones along the way.

Where I’m concerned, I’m not usually a very fair judge.

The temptation is always to look at those around me; at how others are doing on what I think is their path.  It’s like going to the gym and comparing myself to the bodybuilder who, frankly really doesn’t do anything else.  If I compare my progress to Mr. Twelve-Pack I seem to be a failure.  If I look around at some of the other men my own age, well, I’m Mr. Universe.   On the other hand, some of my peers could kick sand in my face on Middle Age Beach.  (I’m middle aged only if I live to be 102, we’ll see.)

I tend to judge my progress along the same lines.  I look around at friends from high school or who toed some other imaginary starting line with me.  I see their spouses, their families, their homes or their children and I seem to be falling behind.  I rarely consider their mortgage, college fund or couples counseling in these self-flagellatory spot checks.

Two things are usually missing from my self-pity orgies.

First off, I tend to omit the degree of difficulty.  Choosing the path of least resistance is a perfectly reasonable life choice, but judging my own progress against those who are just drifting isn’t very accurate.  For a long time I mapped my success using the coordinates of my parent’s journey.  Mostly, that just got me lost.  I’m an artist and my parents are civil servants working in state jobs.  I’m proud of them and grateful for the support they were able to give me.  Still, it drove me crazy when I didn’t have job security, a pension fund or major medical.  What I didn’t include was that my parents haven’t written any best sellers, or lived the kind of life that I’ve gotten to live.  I wouldn’t just them that way, so why do it to me?

That bring us to the second thing I usually leave out when I’m determined to feel bad about my life, the path itself.  I don’t actually know what Halo is, but I’m betting it’s harder than Candy Land.  It wouldn’t really be fair to compare the scores from the two to take the measure of the player.  Mr. Twelve pack from the gym may be in Hollywood to become a movie star or to become a competitive body builder.  Either way, just having the twelve pack isn’t very far on either of those paths.  He’s a triumph if he plans to be the trainer in the best shape at my gym.

The same goes for me, though I hate to admit it.

If my plan was to marry and settle down in the suburbs of my parents’ hometown, I’m a flop.   I tried that, but I wasn’t really qualified.  It seemed like the easy choice.  For me, it wasn’t.  I’m actually doing better at the thing that seemed like the harder choice at the time.

So, how am I doing?

It depends on the yardstick I feel like using to measure.

If I’m measuring with the money and fame yardstick, I’m a failure.  Times are tough right now.  I don’t have a publishing deal or a book out.  My agent isn’t calling.  I’m not even sure how many people are reading this.

On those rare occasions when I’m willing to use the quality of life yardstick, well I’ve got dust clouds billowing in my wake.  I’m in perfect health and great shape.  I’ve got a host of friends and a life filled with possibility.  There’s still talent to spare even though I’d a be a geezer in most other fields.  If I was a dancer or an athlete my career would be over by now.  Most of all I’m pretty happy most all the time.  I’m that annoying guy who walks around smiling like he’s got a secret.

My secret? I’m still on the path.  The purpose of life is the journey, I think.  Getting there is nice but it really only begs the question: what’s next?

Winning the Academy award takes about thirty seconds.  If I do wind up with an Oscar but that’s the only fun I’ve had getting there? Well, that sounds like failure to me.

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