Sunday, May 25, 2008

How Do You Define Success?

How do you define success? A friend and I were discussing the concept the other day. It really is the ultimate subjective question...which is why I love it so much. Success, as society would have us believe, is larger this and more of that. We really are a consumer society and many of us have been brought up to equate possessions with success. Also, there are vocations which seem to be indicative of success...the list goes on and on.

Suffice it to say I had pause to think about what success means to me. Living a meaningful life is a top priority. This entails showing compassion towards others, being there for friends and family and celebrating all of the wonderful components that make up this fragile gift called life. If I am able to make others happy sometime, to encourage someone to laugh, to cry with happiness, to inspire them creatively, to make themselves the best that they can be-that is living a happy, successful life to me.

It really is amazing how wrapped up we can get in the hustle and bustle of life. The unconscious voice that tells us to acquire, that owning things equals is a fruitless endeavor in the long run. You can't take it with you, as they say. Material possessions are like biting into a chocolate Easter bunny that is hollow on the inside...outside it is sweet and tempting, but it leaves you empty and wanting something more substantial. Now when I say substantial I mean fulfilling to the soul, not something to put on a mantel of opulence.

I met some new friends today. I am doing a commission for them. This is one of the many joys of being a painter...meeting wonderful individuals who become friends. They are terrific people; so generous and thoughtful. Sitting having tea with them behind their house made me realize how the best things in life really are free. To share a meeting of minds, opinions on what makes the world go around or thwart it's progress, these moments are ones to hold close and cherish. It is times such as today that my inherent cynicism begins to abate....I learn to have some faith in humanity that such lovely people are everywhere-that the world is not necessarily going to hell in a hand basket.

My upcoming trip to Salt Spring Island is drawing ever closer. I have rented a small cottage on the ocean...a beautiful place from what I have seen. I plan on visiting the entire island, including the market in Ganges on the Saturday, Ruckle Provincial Park and all points in between. I love the idea that Salt Spring is an artistic mecca, with lots of working artists with open doors to their studios, ready to welcome the casual passerby. I can only hope to get a few quality paintings out of the excursion...from a portrait of a local baker to the profile of a nearby mountain, all make up the quality and uniqueness of that time and place.

Pet Peeve of the day: People who insist on traveling at the exact posted speed limit. Please. Speed limits are posted knowing that the average person will travel 10 kms faster than the posted number....and of course, these staid drivers are always on two lane streets or roadways...where overtaking them is a hassle and a hazard.

Listening to: "What Ever Happened" by The Strokes

"What's money? A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do." ~Bob Dylan


Corinne K. Lewandowski said...

Well said. For me success has been learning how to accept serenity from within myself rather than from an external source.

The which makes you extraordinary also make your artwork wondrous.

I love your insight into the world.

roberto said...

I assume that being kind to people, caring for animals and those unable to care for themselves, helping people in times of need, et cetera is a minimum requirement as a member of society.

For me success has been raising well balanced children who know what the minimum requirements are. And options: having options to do, or not to do; like go to, say, Tahiti, or not go to Tahiti. You’re right on about material possessions but we should not be ashamed of making the dough that lets us go (or not) to Tahiti.