They say that for success, you need a network, a whiteboard with steps to a goal, a schedule, a treadmill, a soulmate, a diploma, a bank account, a label, a business suit, high heels, an estate, an inheritance, and a name.
We give trophies to what our eyes adore.
We spend dimes of thousands on achievements that can fall from a wall and shatter with the glass frame.
We make records for the shrill shouts and deep tones that move our ears to applause.
We praise those who make a statement by selling their soul.
And in the depths of weakness, we crave that forbidden fruit that seems just out of reach.
The word has lost its meaning, and traded its worth for immediate vibes.
If you are trending on Facebook, you have success, they say. If people write about you, stalk you, leak your pictures, want to shoot you,drool over you, then you have success. If your business is blossoming, if health is blooming, if riches are abounding, if people are fawning, you have success. People with success are fulfilled, and they’ve reached the stage of enlightenment where everything goes straight from there. At a certain level, one can either fall to damnation or rise even higher–and success makes a name for that strata.
Even in lesser forms, below the fans and fame, there is a craving for success. Millions are spent to cut the thorns off roses so red that relationships can do anything but fail. Love marches on to a heartbeat that shouts that it must fulfill the soul above all else. “Success! Success!” The lovers scream when they are together and whisper into pillows like a curse when they are apart. It is in the blood of those at the altar, and drips from the scars of the broken-hearted and torn.
It is a poison to the powerful and the hope of those below. But with just a blink of an eye, the tables turn and minds bred in poverty capture it for their own. It belongs to each person, and thus it is a nomad in no-man’s land. It wanders and changes and becomes that which it was never meant to be. It means to win a trophy, or it means to find romance, or it means to conquer a fault, or to lose pounds, or to become a different person. It is hard to comprehend and yet everyone breathes it like oxygen. More than any other virtue or fault, it survives the storm. Success is the ultimate victor, the end scene of every film that makes the audience bring out tissues with the credits.
It is worth the price we pay, is it not?
But, what if, like love, success is but a paradox that has been twisted. What if, when we are not succeeding in our own eyes or in the eyes of the audience, we are learning how to do so? They say to win is to succeed, but what if to fail is to succeed even more? Victory is an end to the road, but struggle provides a constant awakening–a breathing in the darkness that makes a gleam in the eyes. Success is a firework on a holiday night, but failure creates a quiet fire that burns beneath the embers of a dying dream. When awakened, it can light a forest ablaze as it slowly dances–yellow, red, and orange, brilliant and bright!
Is failure then the goal? Certainly not. It is painful and brutal, and can turn a champion into an underdog.
But there is no success without failure. It is what creates a need for victory. It is what keeps our hearts alive. For if we were always drunk on success, as the commercials and glitzy films project, the fire would die and never blaze again. The two are bound to each other in an inescapable bond.
They are two halves of the same heart, two thoughts in one mind, two lovers in one romantic tale.
Why is it then that we can never see them together? We want one without the other. We deny the power of one and lift the other on a pedestal and throw glitter in the air.
In truth, they are inseparable. The beauty of each is that it makes the other stronger. Without failure, success has no glory. Without success, failure has no hope.
Success is not the happily ever after, but every page between the title and the index. Like happiness, like love, it is a process and not a goal.
Maybe if we could accept that, we would stop just waiting for our dreams to come true, imagining that day when the world is conquered and all is at peace in our hearts. Maybe we would realize that success is not found in tomorrow, or yesterday, but in the perseverance it takes to keep going with no shooting stars in sight.
Maybe that would happen, if we only remember that success is not an achievement….it is a state of being.


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