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Monday, August 29, 2011

"Ageless Journey: Not A Nightmare"


by Helene Weinberger

Success or Failure - which label applies? Or is it neither? I remember a poem from my youth:

How do you measure success, God?
What is the scale that you use?
What do you get if you win, God?
What do you get if your lose?

What if you climb toward your fate, God,
And the rings of success come to you,
What if you're lucky and grasp them, God?
What would you say that is due?

What if you climb toward your goal, God
And grunt and sweat to get there?
What if your hands miss their aim, God
And grasp only circles of air?

As adults often we may have a nightmare feeling that we have grasped only circles of air in our long search for success and fulfillment. Those awful feelings are sometimes so overpowering that we believe our lives have simply been one futile road taken after another. Then, indeed we may need either professional help or maybe only a deeper look at what we have really done with our lives.

When I first read the poem quoted above I was 15 years old in a girls' school in California and believed that every other girl was more atttractive and vivacious than I could ever be and carried with me a long litany of my worst qualities. At that time no one really paid attention to these types of emotional "growing pains", and no family was available for support. I was very much on my own to deal with my failures and less desirable qualities the best way that I could. And that in itself became a great learning tool.

I began to count some of my accomplishments and successes, not only my failures. Poetry became a means of self expression, and the love of literature began to develop more strongly. And I found that physical exercise, especially walking, gave me energy and some feelings of exultation. Finally I realized that I was capable of working with my contemporaries if they needed some help in test preparation. In other words I discovered some potential means of personal survival.

Now, glancing back through the years, I realize that my early traumatic experiences became tools toward achievement of goals. Today when I am really tired, or hungry, or ill, or perhaps lonely, I temporarily return to the dark doldrums. But I also am aware that I have been given the capacity to enjoy a more bounteous life.

It certainly is not financial success that gives us the awareness of our personal value, nor is it whether or not our life partner recognizes our personal worth. It is always within our own being. Have you given of yourself to a cause that you believed in? Have you, by your example, given someone stability and persistence? Do you try to be supportive of your family and friends? Have you thanked those who have gone the extra mile for you? Have you reached beyond yourself for the extra strength when that was demanded?

Or are you measuring yourself in competition with some idealistic figure of power and status? Are you fearful that if you allow yourself to recognize your own ability you are lacking in humility? Is perfection your goal? If that is what you seek, then you have an impossible task.

We are all human beings with human frailties, not God. Let's just be grateful for what we are today and let us not be afraid of letting our own light shine forth as one small beacon that helps to illuminate the world.

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