What is it with the brain’s heuristics? Shortcuts are great and all but it’s like it’s the brain’s ultimate goal to eventually be able to do nothing and to do it the most stubborn, insufferable way possible. Hell I can make it do nothing with a knife and about thirty seconds of searing pain followed by an eternal silence. That way seems a lot easier, were my goal be to accomplish the apparent ultimate thrill of pure nothingness.
But that’s my brain’s goal. My goal is… well, I guess that’s hazy. Defining your terms when it comes to success seems obvious. This is what I consider to be success, and I shall be successful once I have reached these terms. Simples, right? Yet here I am, lolly-gagging and procrastinating over that simple idea. What is my definition of success? How do I reach it? I’m basically repeating myself here. Maybe it makes me sound more clever than I actually am. Maybe I’ll fool myself into thinking I actually am successful. Maybe the success was inside of me all along, right next to the sandwiches i ate earlier.
Yes. Let’s follow that delusion. I am successful. Why wouldn’t I be? I have a house (under a mortgage). I have a car (sold to me used at just over a thousand pounds along with some uncertain rattlings less than fifty miles later). I even have a girlfriend that I didn’t have to pick up at the local internet. Yes, I am successful. I must be right. There are people in other countries, people even in this country, that would kill to have these things. Literally murder people. People have died over a pair of shoes (citation needed). If I own things that are worth more than a pair of shoes, I should be able to measure that as some kind of success, right?
What else? I have a good job. Pays me over twenty thousand English pounds a year. I assume that’s good. I mean I’m not a millionaire but I’m in a position where I can put money aside at the end of each month, just long enough for me to watch it quickly disappear shortly afterwards when something else goes wrong. It’s in IT, one of the leading industries. I’m respected in my workspace, enough that people come over to me to ask for favours and advice all the goddamn time. I must be doing something right if the senior managers come to me to ask me for stuff, right?
I have an adorable cat. She’s staring at me right at this moment, , rolling on her back and waiting patiently for me to fuss her endlessly, as is her only desire in life beyond snatching my hand at an unsuspecting moment and digging her claws in.
Speaking of cats, I have a great family. I’m not making my own, but my parents are great and my sister does okay I guess and she keeps making more nieces and nephews for me to play around with. I also have lots of cousins and aunts and uncles and other people i sort of know who can apparently tolerate me at get-togethers.
What else? Hobbies. Yes. I have hobbies. I’m kind of eclectic when it comes down to them, but writing, drawing, video games (playing and making), keyboard, house decorating, masturbating, gardening, exercise, jogging, martial arts, electronics. I have lots and lots of hobbies and they keep me entertained/distracted for hours at a time. So many in fact that I’m probably forgetting to list a few. Adventures and traveling. Those as well. I do it all. I’m about to take up water skiing, and I’m going to take part in the Wolf Run in a few months time. Maybe you’ll see me there. I’ll be the one at the back.
But I guess this is all more stating what I do and what I have. Do these make me successful? Some view obtaining these as a measure of success. And I suppose if I didn’t have them, maybe I would too.
But I apparently don’t. I do at times. Those lucid but deluded moments where I sit happily and contemplate how lucky I am in my privileges. I mean, I can’t deny my privilege. I’m white, British, male, I suppose middle class, heterosexual, blond, muscular (fat). That last one is probably the only one I worked hard for. I’ve lived quite a lucky life. Being born in Ethiopia would probably make all these ramblings seem like the most amazing things ever. But I wasn’t, and they don’t.
Oh, dancing. Also, dancing.
So, in simple terms, what is success for me? I guess it’s a feeling of satisfaction. I’m a worker at heart. I like to think I’ve got a lot done. And I’m happy when I do that. To me, writing a thousand words (yes I am keeping track) is apparently a lot more satisfying to me than writing one really good sentence. Not that I don’t mind it. A single sentence sounds a lot grander than two pages of ranting. It can have more comedy value, can be more ominous and all sorts of other cools things that would get lost among a mishmash of words. To me satisfaction is exhaustion. You only know you’ve worked hard when you’ve collapsed after it and can agree you’ve done a job well good. I kind of feel satisfied with having written the last two pages in one go, even as the cat tried to paw my hand into a more fussible position.
So does that mean success is just keeping myself busy? Such a proposition feels kind of lame. I could spend hours trying to turn one large rock into smaller rocks with a hammer and consider it a job well done. I once spent an hour lying on my back with my arms raised in the air to see if I could really do it (i could). Maybe that is success. The people of the past were limited in their technological achievements yet I imagine a lot of them still felt like they had achieved something, even as they did die of polio.
But could I really be happy with deciding that my success is determined by the delusion of achievement. Again, it’s lame. I could have done the bare minimum for my entire life and then said ‘you know, I least I did it my way’ and that could somehow be considered a success. That would be stupid. Wouldn’t it? I don’t know.
Analyze anything long enough and you’ll most likely kill the meaning behind it. Maybe that’s a proof in itself. By analyzing something for an extremely long time you’ll most likely render it void of all meaning. By doing so, maybe you’re proving that all concepts are indeed meaningless. It would be a hard answer to truly accept, but maybe that’s a problem in itself. We don’t like ‘everything is meaningless’ as an answer, so we disregard it and try to find a new one. Yet if we were to analyse anything long enough and find that the answer always came back to the existence of bananas, would that seem a more tangible, if somewhat bizarre, answer and as such would be a little more acceptable? The meaning of life is bananas, and not the crazy kind. Just the simple herb fruit thing. Sure it sounds like nonsense, but we’d probably be a little more accepting of it than utter nihilistic meaninglessness.
Mind you, maybe this is all me being broken. There are people out there who probably analyse everything to an insane extent and come up with the idea that everything is God and the meaning of existence is to waste time worshiping him. I guess it’s more fulfilling than to waste time believing in nothing. At least, if nothing is all you do.
And people do do this. Overanalyse everything to come up with the answer to god that is. There’s a great YouTube video of Kirk Cameron overanalyzing a banana and pointing out how it’s shape, size, texture and ability to go rotten is proof of a great designer. He goes on to show how the banana perfectly demonstrates itself as a direct creation of god for mankind to eat. It is easy to hold, stays covered until ready to be eaten, super tasty, self disposing and even tells you when it’s ready to eat by its colour. Yes, through this analysis, it’s quite easy to come up with the idea that someone made the banana to be eaten.
which is why it’s kind of amusing to know that that’s why man used artificial selection to do it in the first place.
Getting a little off-topic, an actual banana is so bizarre to look at and be told it’s called a banana that I didn’t entirely believe it when I saw one. They’re actually kind of oval. Tough to access and apparently the pips in them are large and obtrusive when trying to devour it. The banana of today was made by humans taking the time to focus on the growth of one banana over another, and repeating selecting them until they came out a way that suited us. It’s actually kind of impressive how one can keep a hobby for several generations like that. We do it for dogs too. Still kind of hard to see why evolution deniers exist in the first place. You think they would have fell into the ‘god used evolution as a system argument by now’. Hell, even the Pope’s done that.
it occurs to me that I didn’t plan to use the bananas = meaning thing and that Kirk’s banana example at the same time. I guess one just kind of led into the other
Of course, none of this tells me what success is. It clarifies it a bit. At the very least, success is a concept determined by humans themselves rather than some intrinsic concept of the universe. Jupiter does not care about your personal accomplishments and most likely neither does the man three doors down from you.
Hell, in a way I’m not even sure if success is a concept that all people desire. It seems like everyone is trying to make their way in this world. People want to become a big shot, or a player or a contender. every field has its experts that have other people pay them money to be awesome in. Success is universal to man, it seems. Dogs have it too I guess. They seem pretty happy when they’ve got the stick and been able to return it to you, or perhaps they’re only happy because they know it leads to treats. Maybe we’re all just Pavlovian devices, getting off at our ability to do tasks that the universe has inadvertently taught us are good tasks to do. Doing nothing more than following simple desires for pleasures that are then mixed in with other simple desires for pleasure. Simple desire over simple desire compounded against one another, on top of one another, merging with one enough. Kind of makes me think of sex. Hell, are not Sexual fetishes nothing more than certain desires going in a different direction to what other people think are normal. I don’t know. I’m just robbing all these concepts of meaning really. Perhaps I should stop here. I’m certainly not getting anywhere.
Perhaps success is just being better than your fellow human. I seem to remember a time when my friend showed me his blog. In it was multiple entries depicting his trips around the world. The guy likes his Germany, and several of the entries describe his life where he abandoned his current life and went to live over there for a while. He spun a few tales of odd events that happened to him and generally gave his opinions of how he felt there. And I remember actually feeling quite jealous. Not because of his adventures, but because he had taken the time to write about them. And that’s kind of what I want to do. Write about stuff. Tell stories. From his words, I felt a torrent of enviousness that made me feel that I wanted to emulate his actions and write about my own experiences. And it was around then that I remembered.
I had written six fucking novels at this point.
Why was I feeling jealous of my friend? What he did was cool, I’ll admit that. I’m not trying to rock his own concept of accomplishment, but I had done a lot more that what he had written there. I easily had several hundred thousand words out of me at that point. Yet there I was being kind of sort of jealous.
Maybe humans are just morons. Achieving greatness in one stroke and then wishing we had our friend’s ability to play the kazoo really well in the next. Maybe we shouldn’t be trying to achieve success. Maybe we should be trying to destroy our goal of accomplishing it, so we free from time wasting jealousies or this hour wasted contemplating it and writing… two thousand two hundred and five word articles on it, and can get on with doing something fucking worthwhile instead.