Saturday, November 15, 2008

Defining Success

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away, there lived a little boy. Because this was a time before ADD was invented, most people just thought this little boy was wildly hyperactive, willfully naughty, and predisposed to being the complete centre of attention at all times. One day, the little boy was home sick from school with his twin sister and got bored. So he pulled out the paintbox and went to work on himself in green watercolour. And by "himself" I mean a certain body part. I won't tell you which one because I don't need to. I'm pleased to confirm that the body part you're thinking of is the correct one.
The little boy is now 31, and some sort of rocket scientist. Actually, he's an engineer, but he's in pretty high demand and has just recently started working for a little company you may have heard of. It's called NASA. Sigh...
As the oldest of 7 children, there was a very brief period in my life where I was a family success story. I was the first to graduate from anywhere, the first to embark on a respectable career, and the first to get married and travel across the country in search of my fortune. I always knew that couldn't last. Sister #1, just a year younger than me, was always destined for greatness. So when she graduated with a degree in Math and Anthropology (huh?!), went south for a Master's degree in something even more confusing, then landed herself on a positively impressive career path as an Actuary, it was really no surprise.
But when the pesky little monster who enraged me every day of my childhood, always knowing exactly which buttons to press, getting worms from not washing his hands before dinner, and carrying around a stuffed Smurf until he was about 12 is entrusted with a project that will eventually enable people to travel into space, I have to wonder, how exactly did I manage to become the family ne'er-do-well?!
I have a second brother. He was actually the first of my siblings to work over at the Kennedy Space Center a couple of summers ago. He is now immersed in post-graduate studies in chemistry. Shudder. My other sisters have all reached their own personal levels of success as well. Sister #2 (the little boy's twin) does the all-important work of answering 911 calls between raising 2 (soon to be 3) wonderful kids, and sisters #3 & 4 are both just heading out into the world, embarking on marriage and everything that comes with that, and they have the whole world still to conquer.
But I guess success is a mindset. You can look to the world to tell you you're worthy (and probably never get a satisfactory answer) or you can look within. And whether you're saving the world, sending astronauts safely into space, sending kids safely off to school, or growing a few things in your garden, if you're passionate about what you're doing and feel you're making the world a better place, you probably are.
When I look at myself, I really can't complain. And in the big scheme of things, I guess that's what success is all about.

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