Being traditionally British, success is a difficult concept for me. I've been bought up to believe that taking part is the most important thing and that actually lifting the gold cup is actually a bit excessive, a bit immodest, a bit OTT. We are programmed to say "Well, it's nothing really" and downplay success. It's no coincidence that Ali's "I am the greatest!" came from supple American lips, not stiff British ones.
So please accept how tricky this blog post is to write.
I have been tremendously successful recently. Even when I've not been.
Let's start with the easy stuff. Already this last week I have written about;
- My birthday and how well it went - no family rows, no trauma, no thrown birthday cake (only one dropped one, and that didn't do it much harm) and no unwanted socks. Instead I got everything I wanted and more. We all enjoyed the day in an easy and comfortable way. And I did not suffer any anxiety about entering my third decade.
- Although I didn't enjoy the film ever so much, I was able to see the theatre production of War Horse. Although this might not seem like a tremendous achievement, it did mean travelling into London and surviving the theatre production and trip back home. It was a big day and I suffered for it. But the memories, as you could probably tell, live on in a very positive way.
- I am engaged. Enough said.
- I photographed an outdoor theatre production in the dark with a 300mm zoom lens. Not many people do that kind of thing and I believe that I do it very well indeed. I can get into the rhythm of Shakespeare and use that to help guide when I press the shutter. I hope that my photos make some of the cast smile, especially given how much they make me smile.
- I am most of the way through a book which I am not enjoying, but which I can not enjoy in an educated and enlightened way because of the work I've put into my education along with a natural skill with literature and narrative.
And on a similar vein;
- I have completed a degree in Classics and made it into London (again! And I don't even like the capital!) to graduate. Because of this I feel I have a set of knowledge I can use to rubbish incredibly successful novels. And also to enlighten and inform anyone who wishes it.
- I have two photos ready to go into an exhibition in a couple of weeks time.
- I am learning Latin and ukulele and loving both.
- I am producing art in various forms.
- I am helping people in many ways, including practical things (I helped with a Holiday Club for children by sorting out IT issues) and more airy fairy emotional stuff.
Of course, life cannot be all success. But when things go wrong, increasingly I feel that this just becomes another possibility for success.
I recently found out that my blood pressure and cholesterol were both raised. Given that, due to my health, I cannot exercise, this means that my chance of heart attack or stroke are quite significantly raised. Obviously this is a pretty bad thing, but since then I've been working hard on both diet and stress. I have cut my salt intake (which was hard, because I didn't ever overload on salt) and reduced the amount of saturated fats I'm eating. I've not had a single rasher of bacon in over three weeks now.
And the interesting thing is that success in this is not measured by the reduction in BP or cholesterol (my BP has reduced somewhat...although whether enough or not, I'll let my GP decide) but in how well I've made the change in diet. I'm not doing anything with my diet that is hurtful or upsetting. I'm still really enjoying the food we eat. That's very important to me - food is a huge element of my sensual enjoyment of life.
Likewise, I've been trying my best to relax. This one is harder and perhaps less of a success. But I've found new images to use in an attempt to meditate and reduce BP, heart rate and such.
And even when health gets in the way of something like my planned blog a day for a week, it actually allowed me to include something more. And my blogging has just extended into the weekend which is no problem at all. And this morning when I've been awake early with pain, I've been able to concentrate on writing this.
So I really do feel that I am succeeding in life. I don't believe that I am the greatest, but I'm beginning to feel that I'm getting close to being the best I could possibly be, and what's more, I'm accepting of the things that limit how much I can achieve.
Of course, I'm not always this enlightened. I still get frustrated and angry. I still sometimes forget my successes and dwell on the things that I wish I were doing. But on the whole I feel...comfortable.
And the good thing about seeing all this success is how excited that makes me feel about the future. Because if I'm succeeding now, then there's no reason why that shouldn't continue into the future.
The future's bright - the future's gold.