That the drive to succeed is a hallmark of our times isn’t any great secret. And watching a bit of the Academy Awards the other day made me feel that the only people who have significant existence are the Hollywood stars. Millions of us had our eyes glued on these people as if they were the only people in the world, and seemingly they are. Most important, of course, was what they were wearing.
Some of these people do seem very nice, and we like them (though we don’t know them), and we wouldn’t hesitate to join them for lunch if asked (but we won’t be asked).
They’re sort of more real to us than ourselves.
Because we are the little people who don’t feel we count. And maybe we don’t count in a world of so many billions, a world that glorifies fame.
We say this isn’t so, of course. Though maybe it’s true. We could never get what these people get, the adulation, the respect, and all kinds of free expensive stuff. This is a life that most of us will never live, but that apparently so many of us crave.
“If I just had that, my life would have meaning.”
Success doesn’t have to be the same thing for everyone. We don’t all want to be actors. I, myself, know a lot of writers, well published, published and just starting out. Who wouldn’t want to be a best-selling author? Or win The Voice. Or sign with the Jets, Mets, the Met, or New York City Ballet. Life would be good. Some people even want to be famous spiritual teachers—definitely a misunderstanding somewhere in this ambition, huh?
But what does everyone really want?
I think we want to be recognized, to exist in the eyes of others, to be what we always hoped we could be but never really felt we were, a person of importance.
Half of everyone’s behavior is a cry to be noticed, even and maybe especially, the people who seem to want to blend into the woodwork (because they don’t know how to shine).
Yet… And you knew that the yet was coming here.
All of this striving, all the results, positive or not so positive, are nonsense.
Success, real success, can take place on a dung heap. In a railroad apartment on the Lower East Side with a shared bathroom in the hall. On the street in Cartagena, Colombia, where the successful one sleeps on the sidewalk after begging for a bite of bread. Or in an Art Deco palace in Himachal Pradesh, India, or a celebrity mansion in the Hollywood Hills.
So what is success? Success is discovery of who and what we are, the integration of the inner and the outer so that the personality and the true core self are one, so that the personality can serve the true core self and the true inner self can liberate the confused and impermanent outer self.
And we are on our way to success because that’s the only destination.
Success is self-acknowledgement, self-recognition, self-adoration without ego.
The distance to travel isn’t as far as we may think.
Easy to say and hard to do? And yet…yet, it happens to someone every day. Have you heard the saying “why not me?”
What to do while waiting for enlightenment? Read a novel.
It won’t do you any harm.