Success is for Losers

The strong smell of flavored tea fills the air as it is poured into a coffee mug. While coffee rules the roost globally for being the most consumed beverage, there is something about tea. A unique quality of relaxation and putting you at ease, coffee I find produces a more activating or stimulating effect. As the smoking cup touches the lips and the hot fluid is slurped in ever so small amounts, two figures emerge. Their faces unclear but voices resonant.

A : “It’s a bit too strong isn’t it?”
B : “Mhmm. So here we are, again, at the same juncture, ahead in time but little else.”
A : “Is that a reminder of a stagnation we both are painfully aware of? Or have you found something new to say?”
B : “I guess what I want to say does stem from a lack of change and motion in the past years but to me it goes deeper. I miss being successful, recognized and perhaps most of all ambitious. Remember the days when we’d be so full of energy and enthusiasm in the quest of something? It’d generally be something trivial, I grant you, but still one could not tell that from our energy levels.”
A : “Yes I do, but I also recall a satisfaction which we had mutually shared in the discovery of the emptiness of these pursuits. You miss success? What success, whose? Who defines what is success?”
B : “You know, rags to riches, fame, fortune, glory, appreciation, recognition and that sort of thing. Materialistic and egotistic clap trap but still enduring, probably because of our affliction to it in our formative years.”
A : “I shall find it hard to argue against the desire for these things, its natural. But yet molded by society over centuries. That absolute necessity to earn as much money as possible and not stop to at the amount that is need. Greed in every sphere disguised in the acceptable and in fact much expected guise of ambition, I don’t find it appealing. I also don’t wish to comply to the norms that such a civilization sets, expecting every human to happily pursue such goals even though few manage to achieve them. Not everyone can be great; it’s not a matter of destiny but one of ability. Here I’d urge you not to confuse fame with greatness.”
B : “But of course, perhaps there is some sort of greatness in fame. I shall allow you that in every field and discipline, whoever is famous is probably not the best or most talented. Yet he or she does posses the talent which led to recognition. I’d have to disagree on the desire for success not being natural; it’s shared by all creatures in fact. Baboons that maintain harems, insects that hoard food, birds that battle or dance over a mate and even plants that rise from the ground upwards, for light and air. They all compete in their own way, for survival primarily but still pride, possession and popularity are not concepts confined to humans. Does that make ambition a necessary quality of life? To me yes, for it is the continued motion forward by some and the attempts at it by the majority, that ultimately leads to progress and you for all your skepticism cannot deny the need for development?”
A : “No, no I wouldn’t. But why let this desire for something better, something usually involving a high degree of hard work be marked as a societal expectation? Shouldn’t this be self driven?”
B : “So should be hygiene and a basic civic sense, but the common man if cannot be allowed to decide for himself, how to dispose off his poo then he certainly needs help in the goal setting of life. A community needs to move forward for it competes with other communities. These communities comprise of humanity as a whole and the rarest of scenarios when they recognize this, they compete against nature, time and other forces marked as natural. It is these contests that the deeds of their comprising beings pushes them forward. Thus they must define goals generic enough to suit everyone and yet holistic enough to ensure communal progress. The most obvious of these is to ensure that everyone is encouraged to be great at whatever they do. As what one does is work and work is measured via money in all modern societies, it is but natural to expect, the degree of one’s success be measured in money. Ethics, ways and means might throw a spanner in the workings of this theory but still it holds up pretty well. Encouraging such dreams not only ensures societal progress at their actualization but also keeps a society’s constituents happy. In an non-ambitious world, the burden of provision of a sense of fulfillment would lie on those who lead a community. Now the task is delegated to every human, making his or her own failures a product of self. Every society is capitalistic in that aspect.”
A : “So it is ok to be a Vice President of a Multi National by the time you are in your late 40s and make inflated, inconsequential decisions than be a great thinker of adequate means but not a superficial life deemed worthy of appreciation? It is all right to pander to the constant parental or spousal nagging to make something of yourself beyond a healthy body and active mind?”
B : “Absolument! I dare point out the fallacy in your assumption that this Corporate big wig is expected to be intellectually impotent outside the office. A man need not decide to refrain from chasing excess in life and instead devout himself to the pursuit of understanding. He can do so as a banker, or an engineer or to use that horrible term, Industry leader. A brain which is capable of harboring both of us at the same time along with  other equally active chains of thought, can surely juggle the society’s and personal expectation of success.”
A : “But that be the entire point! Why should one even try to impress such an obviously hollow bunch of unimaginative, oppressed and delusional people?”
B : “Why not murder people and loot and have sex outdoors? Cause these are all things you refrain from to be part of a society whose benefits like security, economy, culture and others you hope to reap.(Besides the fact that you shall not be happy at the receiving end of such exchanges) You may expect respect from your fellow man and the only way of him knowing that you are worthy of it is via that barometer of ability, success. It measures probability, opportunity and other factors too but still remains an accurate measure of a person’s ability.”
A : “So that’s why we are in the rat race. Well most of that did make rather uncomfortable sense. I still am not motivated to work harder.”
B : “More money means, more food, better beds, larger TVs, quality booze!”
A : “Yeah, that should do it.”

calvin_and_hobbes_044

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