Someone told me today that my pessimism is keeping me from being a success. Hmm. Not a success? Pessimistic? That’s not how I see myself.
Maybe I do come across as pessimistic, but I am only trying to tell my truth, which is all anyone can do. And admittedly, I am not a success by worldly standards. I haven’t made a lot of money working at a corporate job or playing the stock market. Haven’t made much money at all, if I’m being honest. I have earned no title, won no real awards, never been feted or lionized. No more than a handful of people would show up at my funeral.
Although I would have liked to have sold a huge number of books and have a large enough bank account to indulge myself, for the most part, I’ve never wanted material things. Things weigh me down, make me feel earthbound and claustrophobic. Things demand attention and care, and I’d rather devote my time to nothings. Love, freedom, and truth for example. These aren’t “nothing”, of course, but they are “no thing” — they have no materiality. And in these no things, I am a success.
I loved deeply, and even when that love didn’t bring me fairy-tale happiness, I remained true to my love. Although I was not successful in helping my life mate/soul mate get what he wanted in life, perhaps in the end, I gave him what he needed: someone to be there to witness his life, someone to make sure he was comfortable during his final days, someone to take care of his after death tasks. Maybe he even needed someone to grieve for him, to feel his absence, to acknowledge his importance in the world, and that I gave him. Like me, he wasn’t much of a success in worldly things, but his life had so much weight, when he left the world, my world tilted on its axis.
Freedom is something I have always valued. Freedom, and free time. Freedom from the drudgery of a demanding career so I have time to do the things I want. Freedom from things so I have time for no things. I always had time to indulge my various passions, such as reading. For many years, I read every moment I could, often reading far into the night, until finally, during the past year, I had a surfeit of reading. Now I am looking for new passions, though I have not yet found any. (Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say they have not yet found me.)
I am not yet a success in truth, but then no one is. Truth is something we learn throughout our life, getting deeper and deeper into the truth of truth. I am still on my quest for truth, and someday, maybe, I will know the truth of life, of love, of truth itself.
What someone thinks of me, what of their own values they bestow on me (pessimism seem to be a value judgment more than hard truth), has not mattered in a long time, and that, too, makes me a success.
In many respects, my life has not yet begun. Since the death of my life mate/soul mate, and the concurrent death of our shared existence, I was born into a new life. The whole world is mine to do with as I wish, a blank slate, unwritten with failure, ready for success in whatever shape it comes.
Come to think of it, isn’t success also a value judgment? Not everyone’s dreams come true, not everyone achieves worldly success, but everyone is a success at something, even if it is only managing to get through another day.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.