What is success? That’s a difficult question, the answer to which drives us and yet perplexes us. Is success fame? Is it finding love? What makes a doctor successful? Is it the number of patients he’s given cancer or the number of patients he’s cured of cancer? Is a mountain climber successful if he’s afraid of mountains, has a mental breakdown when he thinks about mountains, and has never climbed a mountain? Tough call, right? And it should be because the definition of success is quite grey.
Was Michael Jordan a successful basketball player or a very bad basketball player? No one has ever been able to answer this question.
Say you are an actor and you start acting in New York City, and then you get cast in an off-Broadway play, and then you get cast in a Broadway play, and then you win a Tony Award, and then you get cast in a major motion picture, and then you marry your one true love, and then you win the Academy Award for Best Actor, and then you make an overall assessment of your life and consider yourself fulfilled both emotionally and professionally, are you a success?
If you answered “Yes,” read the scenario again. You skimmed over all the vehicular homicide stuff.
So what is success? Who are the kinds of people who achieve success? Are men successful? I think so, but not if a man’s only claim to fame is being a great husband and father. Are women successful? Maybe? Are black people successful? My gut says no, but I guess they could be (Martin Luther King Jr., etc). What I’m trying to say is that if you are a person, I guess you could be a successful person, especially if you are a Chinese person. Children can’t be successful because they don’t earn livings and aren’t mature sexually.
I have found wires and various forms of wiring—specifically electrical wiring— to be quite successful, wouldn’t you agree? But it didn’t come easy for wires. Success never comes easy, unless it does. It was the same for lamps and corridors and metal. After years of proving themselves, their success is now unquestioned. Brooms are an American success story. Piles of paper, too. And jackets. And Liev Schreiber. But can the same be said for chairs? Some people think chairs are very successful. I think those people are out of their fucking minds.1 What I’m trying say is that success is subjective.
Now, is having lots of money success? It’s a great question that reminds me of the Story of the Two People. One person has money. The other person has no money. The person with money is happy all the time, whereas the person without money is always sad. The person with money has no friends or family. The person without money is constantly surrounded by friends and family, but is always telling them, “I would trade you all in for a lot of money.” The person with money believes money is the key to success, and the person without money agrees with him.
Does this mean that money makes you successful? Well, if that’s how you read it, I think you need to check your priorities.
The thing is that when it comes to success there are very few certainties, except that you have to be willing to work hard and go the extra mile. Unless your supervisor thinks you are an annoying pissant for going the extra mile, in which case success is the status quo. Unless your cool friends think you are lame for even caring about the status quo, in which case success is failure.
Allow me to get personal for a moment. I have the latest in computer technology, including the most up-to-date and most expensive cellular phone. The reception on my cellular phone is perfect and e-mails take very little time to download even when I’m not on a Wi-Fi network and am using a 4G-telecommunication system. In summary, my cellular phone and my cellular phone service provider are nothing short of excellent.
I also have the best cable and Internet package. I have Showtime, I have HBO, I have Cinemax. Of course I have Encore. When I stream television programs via Netflix and Hulu Plus, the picture quality is fantastic and the stream is never interrupted because my Internet is exceptional. With the On-Demand feature that came with my cable package, I have unlimited access to all the latest movies, including Elysium, We’re the Millers, and the newest Superman film, Man of Steel. I also have access to numerous classic films. Last night I wanted to watch Midnight Run and did so using my cable service.
But am I necessarily successful? Yes.
What I’m trying to say is that, in the end, it all depends on how you yourself define success. Then again, you could just go by the Webster’s definition, which is, “The achievement of something desired, planned, attempted, or a man who makes everyone jealous because he has the best cellular phone on the market and the best cable and Internet package money can buy.”
Once again, I am a successful person.
1 Every chair I have ever sat on has collapsed.