To Those who Consider themselves a Failure and those who have found success at all Cost:
I have had a thought that has plagued me most of my adult life. A thought that even inspired the title of an ill attempt at writing a book. A book that was doomed from that start as I kept trying to conform it to encompass more or less as certain people asked to read it when it was done.
The thought. "What is the measure of a failure"
I can't completely say why this sentiment has for lack of a better phrase. Haunted me. I'm not so much interested in how we measure sucess. More what do people consider not as failing at a task but rather consider being a failure.
I, for my own sake, don't consider myself much of a success. Yet by many other people's standards I would be. Yes. I have a good job. Yes, many people refer to me as smart. Yes, I know my family and friends care for me and the few I have let close I know would do almost anything for me. Though I don't think I would ever ask for much.
This statement haunts me because I know I could do more. I could try so much harder than I do. I could care for things so much more than I do. Yet, I can't really explain why I don't. I don't put the effort into figuring it out. Things just kind of happen and I just go with the flow and things just work out. I don't want to say I am not grateful for this but at the end of the day I'm really not. To the degree my Grandma has always called me "blessed" and my sister as always referred to me as "The Teflon Kid" because things just roll off.
While neither of these are bad in any sense of it. They have left me empty. A lack of fulfillment. A lack of pride. A lack of what I would think success feels like. Without really much effort I have ended up in a position in my life people would kill for. I don't want for a roof over my head. I don't fear not having food in the fridge or not have enough money to cover my expenses and to cover whatever whimsical thing pops in my head. It's just how it is. It's just how it has become. Those are things you are supposed to be grateful for. Those are things you are supposed to feel pride from. I just don't.
I feel guilty. I feel empty. I feel unworthy.
You see the problem is I don't look at things from that point of view. I look at the world and I see how unfair it is. Why should I, who has always had a loving home. Parents, even though divorced, where good to use. A step father who loved and cared about me. A father who loved and cared about my step brother. A mother who would give her live to just make mine a little better. A sister who tries her best in her own way to be there and guide me. A brother who was and is a Buddha.
These are all net positives, aren't they?
All I see in the mirror is a man who the world has tried to give everything to but has rejected it. A boy who is still too scared to speak his true thoughts. A kid who skates through because he has never known any other way. Hasn't needed any other way.
Why should I succeed and others not? Are they failures or is it me? Is there a finger to point? Is there a change that could make it all better in my eyes? I just don't know and it drives me crazy. It prevents me from sleeping and it keeps me locked in a shell I am not sure when I acquired. You could ask some of my closest friends and I can bet most of them couldn't tell you that much about me. That much about my past before they knew me. Isn't that what friends do? Share themselves. I just don't know.
So again. What is the measure of a failure?
The person who gave up on school to work a job to support their family and now has very limited prospects. Are they a failure. The one who got sick or hurt and now can't see a way out of financial ruin. Are they a failure. The vets that come back from War who can't adjust back to civilian life because of a trauma no one can see. Are they a failure.
Kids that grow up with disabilities or the families that give up everything for them. The homeless who have just accepted a lot in life. The person on a bridge looking down at the waters, just wondering if jumping is the right decision or not. Are these all people we would consider a failure?
Or is it everyone else around them. The ones that can see all of this and yet do nothing. The ones that can help but don't. The ones who judge and make fun of them. The ones that don't even acknowledge their existence as if they aren't even people in the first place. Are they the failures?
To me it's the latter paragraph. To me that is where I fit into all of this. To me know I can but simply don't. It eats away at me. It kills me little by little and makes me so numb to the world.
But, why don't I change. why don't I do something. I think and I think and I don't act. I don't know how to act. The problems seem so immense to me that I freeze. Are these even solvable things? I want to believe so bad that they are. Yet, I am so uncertain.
I stopped going to see my brother in the hospital at one point in his life. I wanted to believe it was so when he saw me at home he knew everything was better. I wanted to believe that having him not connect me to that pain. That place was a good thing. Was it? Who knows probably not.
I think deep down the bigger reason is there was just too much pain in that place. Too much death. Too much uncertainty. Too much emotion. I could feel it all every time I walked into a hospital. I still can and I still years after my brother's death avoid them at all cost.
Why then do I write this at all?
Again, I don't know. Putting words on a screen can help I suppose. Putting ideas to emotions to lay out abstract concepts. Though I doubt that is really it.
What is the measure of a failure. How is failure measure. By whom does this get judged. By which metric as a society have marked that line in the sand.
Is it the people who we have forgotten? The people we judge without putting their entire life in context. The people who have money. The people who have power?
Is the measure drawn from what people will do in order to gain that title of success? No matter what it means to them. No matter the cost.
A True idealist is hard to find and realist are blinded by an unmovable attitude. I want to believe in a world that will do right be humans in general. Though human nature seems imply the opposite.
What is the measure of failure?
That statement will continue to haunt me. Not drive me. Not change me. It will continue to haunt me until I change. Change is something that seems so hard, so complex, so unattainable but is probably so easy with the right will.
A will I hope to find. A will I hope the world will also eventually find. A place where Failure and Success are measure by so much more then we are capable now or more are willing to be more capable of.