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The Illusion of Success
A WSJ article. The wisdom of Lao Tzu, Wordsworth, and Byron Katie. A book rec and a story.
Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal ran an article, written by the formidable Rachel Feintzeig, which I was grateful to be a small part of.
Clicking the tweet should work; otherwise, here is a link to the story.
The wisdom of Lao Tzu, Wordsworth and Byron Katie
It calls to mind a poem I read in high school, and one of my favorite aphorisms—improved immeasurably by a signature Byron Katie turnaround.
The brilliant Byron Katie describes a turnaround like this:
Turn the thought around. Is the opposite as true as or truer than the original thought?
Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr
If the undergirding concept of success being illusory resonates, I recommend Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan friar.
It’s a favorite book, and it spoke to me at a time when I needed it—while writing my own memoir.
Here’s one money quote among many:
Failure and suffering are the great equalizers and levelers among humans. Success is just the opposite. Communities and commitment can form around suffering much more than around how wonderful or superior we are.
The Station, by Robert Hastings
And then this gem from Robert Hastings. It’s called “The Station.” It goes like this:
Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We are traveling by train, out the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of children waving at a crossing, cattle grazing on a distant hillside, row upon row of corn and wheat, flatlands and valleys, mountains and rolling hillsides and city skylines.
But uppermost in our minds is the final destination.
On a certain day, we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there, our dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. Restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes - waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.
"When we reach the station, that will be it!" We cry.
"When I'm 18."
"When I buy a new 450sl Mercedes Benz!"
"When I put the last kid through college."
"When I have paid off the mortgage!"
"When I get a promotion."
"When I reach retirement, I shall live happily ever after!"
Sooner or later, we realize there is no station, no one place to arrive.
The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream.
It constantly outdistances us. "Relish the moment" is a good motto. It isn't the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today. Regret is reality, after the facts. So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The STATION will come soon enough.
There is not much out there about Robert Hastings, other than he was a Baptist minister, born in Marion, Illinois.