What Does Success Look Like In Your Daily Approach – My Attempt

Starting this off, I must admit that this is probably the most difficult writing topic I have ever approached on the blog. See, I have hit a tough period of writer’s block lately. I confided in a long-time friend and reader of this blog (all the way back to the old Blogger.com days) that I was in this dry spell. She suggested the previous topic and this one as potential jumping off points. The post on Imposter Syndrome took a few hours to write, and nearly two days to research and think about. This post, well…this has been a much tougher one to write, for a lot of reasons – some of which I will go through in the post. I just wanted to explain some of the aspects of approaching the topic – as well as noting that I am always willing to write on any topic you might want to provide. Or at least, willing to try since it will be my own approach.

So, the topic that was suggested was “What Does Success Look Like in Your Spiritual Approach?” In all actuality, this is where I moved the goal post somewhat. The original question was “What Does Success Look Like in Druidry?” However, I cannot and will not speak on Druidry in a way that expresses some dogmatic perspective that should apply to every Druid out there. I just cannot do that. I know my own approach. I know how Druidry functions within my daily Path. I just cannot claim to know what Druidry is to anyone else. So, the first step was to reframe the question in something a touch narrower – my own approach. But that was not the only stumbling point that I encountered.

Success. What the fuck does that even look like for me? Success conjures up imagery of winning, of competition, of goal setting. And if you don’t come out with the higher score, dominate your opponent, or reach your goal – you are a failure. Right? Well, yeah. Except that I do not believe in all of that. Dominating your opponent, having the higher score – that works well in things of competition, but I am not competing with anyone. I hope we all make it, as the oft-quoted meme says. As for goals, I set goals all the time. I fall short of those goals quite a bit. But none of that is a failure. Its an experience that I can learn from, an experience that I can adjust my expectations from. Honestly, Life is not about successes and failures for me. Not anymore. Life is about experiencing things. I think the only success I can truly point to is waking up in the morning. It means that I have not passed beyond the veil, and I get another chance at a new day that could be better than yesterday. Immediately, I find myself beyond the eight-ball, so to speak, trying to figure out what a “success” would look like in my Spiritual approach…my daily Path.

Trying to define something like success, as it applies to my own daily approach, is a lot tougher than I thought it might be. Again, success by its definition, is not something I aspire towards unless I am playing a video game or playing in a soccer game. Perhaps, I could apply it to a concept of positive and negative experiences. Like, for instance, a great moment might be when a ritual goes EXACTLY the way I had planned it. No odd moments. No things forgotten. No surprises. But then, I have had rituals that did not go the way I had planned that wound up being extremely important experiences. Such as using rubbing alcohol to hold a small fire in a metal pot (cauldron). You must light that shit quickly. Otherwise…well, let’s just say that my experience taught me to go other routes. 😊 So positive and negative perspectives really isn’t quite the way to go since negative experiences can provide just as much enlightenment as positive ones can. But there is that one point – enlightenment.

What exactly is enlightenment? The English Language Learners dictionary defines it as “the state of having knowledge or understanding.” This plays a bit easier in my mind as to what this so-called point of “success” might look like. I am not seeking a point of winning or losing. I am looking for experiences that can relay knowledge and understanding to a particular question or issue within my mind. Take for instance, my Odyssean journey through the grades of OBOD’s study courses. I spend a large amount of time on my lessons, not because I cannot grasp or comprehend what is being presented. Rather, I am trying to squeeze every fucking drop I can from the material. I keep looking for more and more experientially points that I can derive from what is presented. Until I have wrung that cloth completely dry, I seem to have the feeling that I have not really reached what I need to get.

What does success look like in my Spirituality? Within my daily Path? Well, I must resort to Henry David Thoreau for that response.

I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, to discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and to be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

Henry David Thoreau

My Druidry is about experience. I’m not looking for a success or a failure. I am here to suck the marrow from the bones of daily Life. I am looking to taste, feel, hear, see, smell, talk with, and listen to whatever is there. If I come back home bruised, broken, and bleeding, I experienced just as much as if I came home with a notebook full of scribbled notes, and horrible sketches. I can go to a classical music concert with an elegant dinner afterwards, and have just as exhilarating an experience if I went down to a local club to see Halestorm, and then stuck around to pound whiskey shots with the band until I passed out. Daily Life is about experiences, about feeling the moment. Grab a hold of it, sink your teeth into its neck, and feel the rising passion. Or curled up on the couch with a book in one hand, your cat on your lap, and your lover holding your other hand. There is no such thing as success in how I live my life. There are experiences, there are sensations, there is living. Sometimes, Life is good. Sometimes, it’s bad. But most of the time, it’s somewhere in-between. So, what is success? I opened my eyes this morning. I took a deep breath. I get another day in this existence. I have succeeded.

Now, regarding the original question, I am not completely sure I have answered exactly what was asked. All I can really do is apologize, to a point. I really have tried my best to answer the question. I did have to change things around a bit, and work my around some of the definitions, as well as the philosophical aspects. Not sure if that is disappointing, infuriating, or satisfying to others. Or maybe some combination of those, maybe even some perspective I have not even thought of here. I will point out; this is how I approached the question. The real question for you, the reader, is how YOU would answer this. I will bet it is far different than I have. And I will bet it is not wrong, whatsoever – even if its diametrically opposed from my answer.

–T /|\

Being Afraid of Success…A Few Thoughts

Me in Dublin, TX - in front of the Dr. Pepper Bottling Companys located there
Me in Dublin, TX – in front of the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company located there

Over the past few months, I have been doing a lot of meditations and long-thought processes over who I am, where I am on my own Path in life, and why I am. Not exactly light topics to say the least. There are parts of my past that I am not very proud of.  The days of hard-drinking, trying to forget myself in a bottle.The manner in which I chose to separate myself from the United States Air Force — I could have done so far more elegantly than I did. The poor relationship I find myself in with my blood relatives – though the reasoning for it is very sound, and puts me in a far more positive place than the alternative would have.  There are parts of my Path in life that leave me very happy for what I achieved. The day I pinned on my Non-Commissioned Officer rank. When I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree – nineteen years after I finished high school next to last in my class’ overall GPA rankings. When I graduated with the first of my two Masters degrees, becoming the first member of my blood-related family to achieve a graduate degree.  But those are merely moments that help comprise who I am today.

Every morning that I wake up, I am a culmination of everything that has happened to that point.  Good, bad, indifferent. Each of those moments have helped me become the person I am today. And each of those moments help me mask who I am from the world around me. That’s right, there’s more to me underneath all of that – and that’s what I have been focused on for the past few months. So, let’s take a little look at a piece of all that which I feel needs to see the light of day. And its not something I am overly proud of.

Underneath all of the wrappings, underneath all of the various accomplishments that I have had – and underneath all of the failures I have achieved as well – is an individual that is frightened.  Scared to death of success.  I can hear some of the laughter arising from folks over that statement.  What the Nine Hells do I have to fear about being successful?  Doesn’t every person dream of achieving success at the things that they do? I know – it sounds like something completely stupid. Enough so, that I have told myself over the decades (I am nearly 50 ya’ll) that my fear of being successful was just my way of justifying failure.  And to be honest, there may actually be something to that.  Its a part of this that I have not yet fully explored – and am not sure I will ever truly know the answer before I pass beyond the veil. But it is there, and its something I live with constantly.

I hate being praised openly. It makes me extremely uncomfortable. I don’t have desires of being THE person in my company at anything. I have desires of being the anonymous face in the crowd that keeps things running and doesn’t get noticed for what is done. I am far more comfortable talking in terms of “team” than I am in terms of “me”. In today’s “me”-centered society – I realize that I am an outlier in the bell curve – so to speak. I am happiest when a member of my team – other than myself – is singled out for accolades and applause. I m extremely proud when that happens, and tend to be the biggest cheerleader of all during those moments. But when its just me, thrust into the white-hot spotlight, I have a tough time of it.

I hear from a lot of people that I have leadership qualities – and I agree, I do have that. However, I am not a jump out and charge forward type of leader.  I am the kind of leader that talks to people quietly, and steps forward WITH them, not in FRONT of them. Going forward means we step forward TOGETHER, not as individuals.

And yet, here I am – talking about this openly. Stepping out – in a slight manner of speaking – into the spotlight.  Well, of sorts.  The internet makes it easier to be somewhat anonymous. So my being ill-at-ease with this is lessened to a greater degree. I still get nervous when I do the podcast — I sometimes feel uncomfortable in front of the microphone on my computer – and all I am doing is just talking. Even in the classroom, I have felt somewhat twitchy standing in front of nearly thirty students – talking about computers, the internet, data, and databases.

So, I have sat for the last few months and thought about this.  I could stand up, pump my fist in the air, and proclaim that I am going to wipe the floor with this feeling!  I am going to kick its ass to the curb and move forward in a positive manner in my life! And while those words look great – the reality is that I would still have that feeling – being scared to succeed. Some may say that I have already managed to succeed just by writing this blog post. Perhaps that’s true. But I still have the fear of success.

There are tangible things, in my mind, to worry about with success.  Much of that comes from money. After all, in western society, we are taught from a young age that success and money go hand-in-hand. If we are successful at what we do – money gets thrown down upon us, like some ticker-tape parade that trumpets our triumphs to the world. But to be honest, that does not happen nearly as much as a lot of people think. People can be successful at what they do – and still receive a pittance of pay for it. Which lets me breathe a sigh of relief. I have no desire for large sums of money – I merely want enough to be comfortable. Able to pay my bills, groceries, gas, and have a little bit leftover to do other things with my spare time. I have no desire to live the life of a rich person – purchasing things that I have no need for. I just merely want to be able to afford what I need – and then a small amount more.  Nothing extravagant. Nothing outrageous. To me, that would be financial success, but that’s only part of the equation.

Perhaps its just me growing older, but I define success far differently than I used to.  Success is being able to take time off from my job – and head out into the woods for a weekend, where I can look up at the stars on a clear night. Success is being able to take trips to places I have always wanted to be – experience the Spirits of the Land there, and possibly meet with friends I have only talked with online. Success is just being who I am meant to be — and that has nothing to do with job status, or how much I get paid. And in thinking along those lines – I am not as scared of being successful.

To be honest, I will also be a little twitchy about meeting people who read my blogs and hear my podcast episodes, and describe themselves as “a fan”. Perhaps, I need to change my perception of that moment – and see it as an opportunity to have the person see themselves not as “my fan” – but rather as “my friend”. Sure, its a manner of semantics – a little word play, if you will – but in the end, I would rather have friends than fans – though people I meet could certain fall into both categories…that is if I wanted to play the “labels” game….