No matter what I do, I just can't seem to figure out this thing called - "success."
I think as long as I live, I will try to be a "success." I have a good idea of what the term means to me, but, the family I grew up in, pictures success as cash in the bank, money in stocks, a fancy home (or two), driving new vechiles, the list can go on forever. You get the picture. But as you chase that dream of success, what do you get? I don't know. I don't know if I'll ever know. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want this type of success. But what I don't want is a success built on excess! I would love to be debt free, have money in my pocket, and truly be able to help someone, not because I had to, just because I wanted to!
Growing up, along the way, I had a few jobs which I enjoyed. But I was told, they were dead end jobs. I'd never achieve my dreams working there, I could never be a success. Now almost 25 years later, having a list of jobs, that would fill this page, I look back and realize, that to have a job you enjoy, is truly a success! To look forward to work, everyday, how much more successful, does a person need to be? A third of everyday doing the same thing, and enjoying it? To me, that's Utopia!
My idea of success really hasn't change much since high school. To be able to leave a mark in this world, is more important then anything I can acquire. But, at a young age, I was told that that's a "cop out." "The only success that matters, is your standing among your peers." Keep learning, keep competing, whatever it takes - win! I was burnt out on success, by the time I graduated high school. I received a football scholarship at Yankton College, in Yankton, SD. But when I arrived, I knew I didn't want to do this anymore! I proved I was a good player in high school, why did I have to prove myself all over again? I never made it to one pratice, I quit, the same day I arrived. I was tired of competing, I wanted success, just not that kind.
Though I knew what I wanted, I felt the shame, of letting my family down. I couldn't explain what I wanted, but I believed, no one in my family would understand. So, I drank, to bury the pain. It worked for awhile, but I needed more! I wanted more! In college, half a country away from home, no one to stop me, I hit the drug scene! Now I didn't care about pain, or success. I found an underground world, where people were accepted for who they were. I know a lot of people can't imagine that with addicts and alcoholics. But, in honesty, I was probably the only addicted person, others partied, but they managed to function in the "real" world. These people are now lawyers and school teachers, and have other "successful" careers. They knew, what they wanted, and what it would take to achieve success. I had no idea. I had a fantasy of this ideal world, with peace and serenity for everyone. No hate, no wars, no skin color, just - people. But, along the way, my ideals, vanished! Stolen from me, in a bottle and a baggie.
It wasn't till my step-daughter, went to the police, and said I abused her and the other kids, that reality finally came home! The world I so wanted, I turned my back on. Alcohol had become my god! Early in my recovery, at an AA meeting, a man gave his definition of an alcoholic. He said, "If someone, ever, shed a tear because of your drinking, then your an alcoholic." I shed so many tears, I'd need at least a dozen five gallon buckets, to hold it all. It was then, that my dreams started to return. It was then, that I hoped, I could find "success."
Ten years later, I find it every now and then, but I'm still searching. In 2003, I raised over $1,400 for the fight against cancer. That was a success! I was doing something for someone, not looking for a "payback." As far as writing a book, that too, can be measured as a success. Not because I wrote it and got it published, but because some of the proceeds will go to help others. 10% will go to the University of Nebrask-Omaha Lied Transplant Center, and hopefully, I'll sell enough books, to change some poems about cancer, into music and create a CD, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society.
But yet, I'm still struggling, trying to find and define success. My dream is that other alcoholics or addicts will find their success, with the help of my book. About four years ago, I changed my attitude with sobriety. I went from a "program of recovery," to a "program of discovery." What I have discovered is that achieving success, is a lifelong journey. Someday, I hope and pray, that I discover, my life was a success! Not measured, by possessions, but rather, measured by trust and honesty and love. How much more successful can a person be? Someday...
(c)2004 Dave Harm