Big, shiny success

What is success in life? What is your definition of success? I’ve been thinking about this a lot over the weekend. Is success outside of you?

Happiness 101 dictates that it is nowhere to be found outside of you, only bloody inside of you. What a drag! Is it true? Now I’m not going to start waxing on about how you can be perfectly content without material things or concrete achievements because I’m not a barefoot monk sitting under a benevolent tree weeping fragrant blossoms. But I have started to question what success is.

This is because I consider myself a failure at certain things. Either I haven’t tried hard enough, haven’t tried at all, or I have given up too easily. If I were happy with that state of affairs then that would be a success, I guess. Lately, I’ve been wondering if I am happy with my state of affairs. And a lot of the time the answer is: yes. I feel incredibly lucky to be the mother of three sons and the stepmother of a beautiful daughter. I feel lucky to be married to a man I love, even though we are very different, it still feels right (when we are not fighting, of course.) If you had asked me as a child what I wanted to ‘be’ or ‘do’ (ugh, that question), I would have said ‘mother’.

Being a mother featured big on my to-do list, as I’ve mentioned here several billion times before. So am I a success? Do I feel like a success?

No *uttered in pathetic, small voice*. Because we are programmed to always want more. We always want more, and we always want to be more. It’s a cursed thing, it’s a great thing, it’s a human thing. We will always want more or feel like we should be more, or that we are missing out on something, or that we are missing out on being something.

How many of us think, often, even once in a while, ‘Jeez, my life is exactly the way I always dreamed it would be.’ Actually, writing that sentence, I can say that I have thought that thought, briefly, recently. It was early in the morning. The coffee was glugging and chuffing its way out of the machine. The boys were playing around me; the littlest one ran up and hugged my leg. There was crappy white toast in the toaster (my goddam favourite) and salted butter ready to be slathered all over it (I’m not allowed it because of gallstones, therefore I can’t stop eating it.) An old Beatles album, Rubber Soul, played in the background. I’d like to add that sunlight was streaming in through the kitchen window, but it was pissing down. No matter. I still thought: living the dream. Living the goddam dream.

And that is success.

PS I have a deadline coming up which I’ve been avoiding and I would rather do anything else – pull off my toenails, iron my vulva (to steal a phrase from a funny old friend), pluck out my my eyelashes one by one and glue them back on again with yesterday’s porridge – than go near my book draft. See above. What is success? I’ll report back from the front soon.

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