I am not by nature a competitive or ambitious person. I have never had to struggle to get what I want in life, because I don’t want much. As a child, all I really wanted was a home made bow and arrow and the ability to roam freely, popping home only for supplies. As an adult, all I want is a first class wife and a way of earning a few quid. I have been lucky to obtain both.
I once read an article of being successful, because I had a vague feeling I really should make more effort, and it told me I should visualise specific things if I wished to be successful. Don’t wish for a ‘big car’, it said, wish for a ‘black Ford Mustang’. The idea of the car stuck with me, even if the idea of working hard didn’t. That’s why I nominated a red Ford Mustang as my car of choice in the post I wrote about being a lottery winner. In truth, if I were to win the lottery I would be happy to potter about in a Volkswagen with a bent wing, mismatched mirrors and a minor oil leak. This, by coincidence, is exactly the car I have, and that, I suppose, is why I am content.
Sometimes I do wonder what I could have achieved if I had been ambitious and had wanted more. Then I think of a friend of mine who had a stroke in his 40s and another who dropped dead in his 50s, both after a stressful life in business. There is little to be gained from being the most successful corpse in the cemetery and, as they say in Nottinghamshire, there are no pockets in a shroud.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t try to do well at some things. I am currently trying to improve my writing, which is what made me start thinking about the subject matter for this post. One day I may even tell you a story about an eleven-year-old with a broken writing arm and a set of exams to do. It is, as they say, complicated, and just because I’m not competitive doesn’t mean to say I’m prepared to let people walk all over me.
There is nothing wrong in being content with who one is, or what one has.
Yes, I’ve often thought that part of a happy life is wanting what you have, rather than something you don’t. It’s different with poetry – I do want thongs I don’t have, but even so, it’s only competing with myself.
My only ambition was to be good at something it didn’t really matter what, but it turns out that you need perseverance, competence and a good teacher and I have not been lucky in these respects.
Yes, being good at things is trickier than it looks. If it is any consolation, you are better at cycling, singing and flute playing than I am. And probably lots of other stuff. This is not a particulalrly high bar, but it’s a start. 🙂
There’s no definition as to what success means to a person individually.
No, but as I get older I am accumulating more definitions of failure. 🙂
Anonymous is Derrick
That last sentence is perfect
Thank you. 🙂
Ah. The joy that comes from rationalising away those moments of failure.
It was a very comforting post to write. 🙂
I used to like it when the games teachers praised my fighting spirit, until I realised they meant “can’t run, can’t catch, but likes hitting people”