We Are All Successful

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.

19 Responses to “We Are All Successful”

  1. karmami Says:

    Very well written touching post thanks for sharing

  2. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Do you know what you are successful in, Pat? Bringing writers together and inspiring others.

  3. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    I’m not that comfortable with the notion that we are all successful. I’m more inclined to believe that while we are around and still have a shot at success we can’t be the opposite of successful. Just what makes for success, as you say, is a judgement call. Just don’t let anyone else make that call for you.

    Sounds like you’ve had a pretty good life and, since you’re travelling, there are no doubt good times ahead.

    I can’t say I have loved deeply but there I’m not giving up on myself. It could happen.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I’m not sure I believe it either, but I wasn’t about to write a pessimistic and cynical post and prove that person right!

      • ROD MARSDEN Says:

        The possibility of success drives me forward and when I arrive at that destination the possibility of success drives me forward once more. That isn’t pessimistic or cynical. It’s just me in motion.

  4. Paula Kaye Says:

    As far as I am concerned you have been very successful. You have touched me deeply with your story. And it is with this insight that I am getting from you that I am able to continue on caring for my dying husband. If that is being pessimistic I guess there is a reason for pessimism. Thank you for your writings.

  5. 1writeplace Says:

    Well, that’s just baloney. You are a wounded veteran sharing what you know and feel with the rest of us. I’m always amazed at how much we have in common about our feelings of loss. Keep going, we’ll keep following.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      “Wounded veteran” I like that. Grief certainly wounds us in ways we never expected. Here’s wishing all of a us peace and healing.

      • 1writeplace Says:

        Yes! We fight a war every day to keep going in this overwhelming grief. I so admire those who can pick up and move on to a real life without this heavy grief holding them down. Sometimes they irritate me too :>)

  6. Malene Says:

    Chiming in, though I’ve only “known” you for about a year, I’d have to say that my understanding of you is not that of someone who is pessimistic, but rather of someone who realistically and courageously faces the challenges in her life and who speaks of what that is like in an open and candid way. That’s not pessimism in my book, that’s realism. Something with which we are too rarely met, IMHO.

    As for success, your blog, its inherent truthfulness, compassion for self and others and wisdom garnered, has and continues to help me through some of the darkest days of my life. If the ability, willingness and strength required to do that for strangers is not a measure of success in life, I ask you: What is?

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      How kind of you to say such lovely things. It’s good to know that not everyone sees what I’m doing here as pessimistic but realistic. As for the rest, I might be helping you through your darkest days, but you’ve helped me too. Grief is a hard journey and it’s good to have companions along the way.

  7. Carol Wuenschell Says:

    Some really insightful thoughts here.

    There are people who have a need to “solve” other people’s problems by giving them simple and often not very insightful advice, like: “think positive!” When you “fail” to take their advice (because it wasn’t very insightful and didn’t work for you), these are the ones who will tell you that you just have a bad attitude and have to change it if you want to succeed. They can’t understand that not all problems are solvable in simple ways. Their problem is, they can’t handle being realistic.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Very true. People don’t like it when their simplistic solutions are rejected, nor can they handle unsolvable situations. A friend didn’t stopped calling during the whole last decade of Jeff’s illness because she couldn’t solve our problems and couldn’t handle my unhappiness. I never did understand that. You’d think she’d have realized that’s when I needed her the most.

  8. Carol Says:

    I think Malene says it well… not pessimistic at all, but realistic, and a blessing to all of us as you’ve shared your difficult journey with honesty and transparency. As for your friend who stopped calling… yes, it’s hard to know what to say or do when someone we know is dying, but not being willing to even try or to offer support is just plain selfish.

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: