A Facebook acquaintance inserted this photo with the title, ‘The 380 upper deck is, well…um, a kind of different, I’d say’ and then he inserted another one which offered views of the scenery he could see from his hotel window, saying,’Not so bad view from a window you have to spend four days in.’ And so on- then we had photos of him drinking wine, trying different kinds of foods, etc. He got 28 ‘likes’ for that first post and 37 for the second one. This person works for an organisation which helps the poor. I wondered what his colleagues and ‘customers’ would have made of his posts? I realised that his aspirations and job were so opposite to each other that perhaps he does not find comfort and happiness in what he does. He is someone who cannot reconcile his behaviour with the values he is supposedly espousing.
For many of us, one’s career can different from one’s calling, leading to a dissatisfaction with our everyday lives. A calling is something we do from our hearts, it is part of our whole lives so that something that is naturally a part of us. Thomas Carlyle said, ’Blessed be he who has found his work, let him ask no other blessedness’. But what is success? Alain de Botton recently posted a blog about learning from the 80’s pop group, Wham!. One of the lead singers, Andrew Ridgeley, is living a comparatively unknown life with his wife, who is also a former pop star from ‘Bananarama’. de Botton contends that Ridgeley is the ‘winner’ and more successful than his former partner, George Michael, who is in the news all the time (sometimes for the wrong reasons) and wealthier. Success is about more than accumulation of money, travel, homes and cars!- ‘The life of Andrew Ridgeley belongs in the public realm. It’s one of the great moral fables of our time. It’s the story of one man’s redemption – from manic, narcissistic pleasure seeking to maturity. But it’s not just his story. He shows us what we need to do collectively, as a nation.’
I have been thinking of success and what it means to me. For me success is a quiet confidence that we have lived the life we wanted, regardless of what society thinks of it and to have contributed to the world a similar amount of time and resources that it has given us. Success does not shout its status from the roof, it is solid and deep, grounding us with our calling- inside out.