“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.”
– A popular definition of “success” that is often attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson, despite never having turned up in any record of his works.
Somehow, the Internet is even worse at properly attributing quotes to the correct individual than oral or hand-written history…but that doesn’t make it any less a great piece. I forget what I was reading several weeks ago that featured this poem, but I jotted down a note to reference it for a future entry. By this definition, would you consider yourself successful? Would I?
Personally I’m not sure that I can say I have reached the height of success as per these parameters, but I for certain believe I am operating within them (for the most part); using them as a sort of moral compass to guide me toward what I hope is a happy, healthy adult life. Looking back the other direction, I see now that I used to become unnecessarily salty when confronted with other members of society who in my eyes were seeking “success” through all the wrong channels — money, popularity, fame, vanity, material possessions, etc etc. Their views were so at odds with the direction of my own…and I let them further intrude by clouding my thoughts and choices. “Brooding” is a good word to describe one of my favorite mental states of that heyday.
Now that I’m a few years beyond that misguided homogeneity (re: a college campus) I so detested, I can look more objectively upon, and in turn disregard where appropriate, how others’ aspirations make me feel. I just wanted the people surrounding me to know a better quality of life; to actually LIVE for something! And of course they all were, in their own ways. I was just intolerant of what to me felt like willful ignorance. Who am I to say everyone everywhere must open themselves up at all times? The world would be that much more brutal for it — which we need about as much as we need the censorship of the female nipple, but not the male nipple, on cable television. I seriously do not understand how we are not past that double-standard yet.
Where does this land me, just over a month on the other side of my move to Connecticut? Well, and perhaps I’m burying the lead here but…I do not yet have a job. I think it was Einstein who said “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results” (or something like that, right Internet?). Well alright Einstein, if you’re so smart then that would make looking for a job in this market economy STRAIGHT-UP BACK-ASSWARDS FUCKIN’ BONKERS. I have seriously never worked so hard to produce so little.
BUT, I have been hustling out in these streets 25/8. Coffee is my ally; a comfortable bed is my foe. [<—- I am still not sure how to feel about caffeine consumption relative to ‘sobriety’…hypocritical? Depends on your program and extenuating circumstances, I suppose. Same for nicotine. And I happen to love coffee & cigars, while having zero dependency on them. Carry on then.] I’m not going to recount the entire past month because 1) it’s late [of course it is] and 2) that’s not really the point of my writing. Suffice it to say I was one of (3) final applicants in a bid to coordinate events for the city’s most prestigious community-relations company, and subsequently studied and became licensed to produce health & accident insurance policies in the state of Connecticut.
There was also St. Pa(rty)rick’s in the middle of the month, which is of course worth mentioning for its infamy as the annual “aggressive drinking is my excuse for anything and everything” day. I celebrated in Brooklyn, where my flatmate and I arrived by rail to visit a close friend from the high school era (who also happened to have a birthday the following week, so festivities served a dual purpose). We spent most of the day on the roof of her high-rise apartment, looking out over the city underneath the bright sun and chilling wind. Beers, wine, etc etc, yadda yadda. It was there; everyone was drinking it; I was expected and prepared for it; hardly even noticed. It was all minimal and no one made it (alcohol) the focus; part of why I love going out with those particular friends so much. Also why I was able to stay out til nearly 4 a.m. with them.
Which, as I grow older and no longer have a desire to ‘keep the party going all night long’, is becoming less and less appealing. I can dig on 4 a.m. if I’m purveying music, writing, reading, watching films — activities that are at least personally productive. I really do love darts and billiards, but especially on weekend nights/holidays when even the dives I am fond of are packed out…those run their course purrdy quick.
Furthermore, it minimizes the chances of tragedies like this occurring:
As an aside: why do so many websites fail so hard at proper in-house promotion placement? “Tragic news as a young woman freezes to death while attempting a hike under the influence of alcohol…but hey speaking of hiking, why don’t you click on this link to find out more about some irrelevant, bullshit national park, since we baited you to find out about ‘Utah’s Best-Kept Secret!'” Idiots. This is from Weather.com, by the way.
While western New York is considerably more protected from the elements than is central Utah, Geneseo was not exactly known for its mild winters. Thankfully I never once had even a brush with hypothermia, but the risk was undeniably out there. #BulletsDodged.
Another very nice feature of cutting out to CT is that I get to shorten the amount of “winter” I have left to deal with by a considerable amount. I have even completed two outdoor jogs thus far! Going to have to hold off on any more of that til the nice weather truly breaks, though; my acute asthma seems to be growing acuter. In the meantime, it’s about time I get back to recovery-related doin’s right proper. I have yet to connect to any A.A. meetings in this area, and it is only to my benefit to do so. Discussing with friends and family, not only to reaffirm my sobriety in new territory but to also reinvigorate my spirit following 5+ weeks of straight job-hunting…and then even to that end, possibly making valuable connections that could yield solutions to that very problem.
So tomorrow (i.e. today, Sunday) I will begin vetting meetings, both local and in surrounding townships. I’m very curious to see what the demographics and socio-economic makeup of recovery programs in this region are like. Today, I am grateful to be able to begin a new chapter of my story, where the road rises to meet me, with the wind at my back and the sun shining warm upon my face.
[Edit: almost to a ‘T,’ I consider my father to fit that exact Emersonian conceptualization of “success,” right down to the garden patch. My greatest sadness is not that I lost him, but that others will never get the chance to meet him, nor have the opportunity to have their lives enriched by his blessings.]