There are days when I feel disappointed with the direction my life has taken. When I feel I didn’t work hard enough, push hard enough, BE hard enough to attain success.
Those are the days when I gauge success according to material acquisitions, to things, to stuff. To the external.
That is how most people judge us, isn’t it? They look at the stuff we have and put us into a particular box. I know that sometimes I am put into the box at the end of the pile, but that is OK. I have made my peace with that.
Then there are the days when I gauge success according to the internal. When success or failure hinges on one question : Are you happy with you who are?
What a gift it is to be able to answer that question with a YES.
It may not be the most resounding YES in the world every time the question is asked. There will be times when your vision of yourself will drop in and out of focus, when your attitude will waver, when you will question your own worth; but if you can answer YES more often than not, to me, that is a life with meaning. To me that is a life well-lived.
There are days when ordinary people who walk the earth bring us messages from the Gods.
My neighbour, a driven, immaculately turned-out, corporate-trained, appearances-are-everything woman caught me taking a photo of this tree in the street round the corner from my house the other day. She thought I was taking it to complain to the Council about how much debris it dropped on the cars that parked beneath it. In truth I was enchanted by the autumn colours, rich and mellow at the same time. The colour of the hair of beautiful Celtic women and warm winter blankets.
She did a double take when I told her I was doing my best to capture the colour of the leaves.
Why? she asked.
Because they are beautiful, I said. Because their colours are a poem.
Later that day I found a copy of the poetry of Keats in my mailbox with a note marking Ode To Autumn.
Thank you, it read. For reminding me there is more to life than work and responsibility. Thank you for showing me the colours.
I was touched by that. My neighbour is the type of person I would normally avoid. Yet she reminded me that there is more to life than the box we are placed in.
She reminded me that through other people’s eyes we can often really see.