“Success” that the Secular Mind Can’t Imagine
My friend discovered that our secular culture’s definition of “Success”, provided by Wall Street & Madison Avenue, is counter-intuitive to Emerson’s observation of “Success’:
“Success is to Laugh often, and much. To earn the respect of intelligent people, and the affection of children. And to know that even one life breathes easier, because you have lived.”
Emerson’s observation is congruent to Kipling’s poem, “If”, which profoundly advises:
“If you watch the truth you’ve spoken, twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools, And watched the things, you’ve given your life to, broken, yet stoop and build them up with worn out tools, You are a man, my son.”
Those poems reflect the Biblical exhortation: “To love one another as I (Christ) have loved you (unconditionally – on the Cross). Or, Solomon’s wise conclusion, “Vanity. All is Vanity.”
Emerson’s astute observation is more about sacrifice, and less about self-gratification. The word “sacrifice” does not mean “LOSS”. The word “sacrifice” come from 2 Latin words: “Sacri Faciam” – To Make Holy”. “Making another life breathe easier” is holy. It’s also an act of love.
Clearly, “Success” is not about the accumulation of money & stuff – as the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu concluded in their “Book of Joy”. Or, even fame. In ancient Rome, the conquering hero rode in a singular chariot to be the sole recipient of the crowds cheers. But, his slave stood behind him, whispering in his ear, “Sic transit Gloria.” – “Fame is fleeting.”
Sadly, so many live lives of quiet desperation, wondering, “Who moved my cheese?” or, “Is that all there is?” Sex & drugs require more, more often to maintain the desired level of euphoria. Regardless, the outcome is waking up so lost, in a place so dark. The quest for self-gratification can never be quenched. The suicides of the rich & famous are stark testimony to that reality. Or, as Shakespeare astutely described, “Lives full of sound & fury, signifying nothing.” And, “Lives that strut & fret their hour upon the stage, to be heard no more.”
External things are holograms of happiness, transient gratifications, subject to the whims “Du Jour” – so fragile, and gone with the wind. The answer all along is within. Peace & joy reside in the mind & heart. Pride, lust, anger, and greed fester in the soft underbelly of our humanity, resulting in bitterness & remorse. Accepting the love & forgiveness of the welcoming embrace, of the outstretched arms, of the Redemptive Cross, provides the peace & joy that the secular mind can’t imagine.
It takes humility, gratitude, and trust to experience the companionship God: The Humility of creature to Creator. The Gratitude of sinner to savior. And Trust that God is sovereign over all things. My friend found that the above insightful, inspiring, profound wisdom of: Emerson, Kipling, Christ, Solomon, and Shakespeare, best define “Success”. The ROI is to experience peace & joy, now & forever.
Perhaps, exchanging “What’s in it for me?” for “Sharing who we are and asking nothing in return”, will be a profound, life-changing experience.