Familiar Flowers

Often when we speak of success we are not talking about our own. That is, let’s say you hope one day to be a successful writer, however you define that. If you have just begun your first book, the only concept of writing success with which you could be familiar would be someone else’s, those writers whose work you perhaps admire or whose readership you hope to match or exceed. But all that success belongs to someone else. All that success is an expression of someone else’s life, of someone else’s curiosity and someone else’s habits and someone else’s dreams – both literal and figurative. And in fact, we cannot know what that other person’s success even feels like. It isn’t ours and so we cannot know. It isn’t ours and so at best we can project how we would hope to feel if the advance just paid Writer X had been paid to us, or the movie contract awarded Writer Y had been awarded to us.

Jim Carrey once said he wished everyone could experience his level of success so they would understand what a big deal it wasn’t. There is no point in imagining what someone else’s success might feel like. What you want to know is what your success will feel like. This will be unlike any success that has come before it. It will be wholly new and surprisingly familiar.

It may even be a bit disappointing. Wasn’t something supposed to have changed? Why does it feel like nothing has changed? Bizarre that, but what could we expect? Where could this success, either gradual or rapid, have come but that part of ourselves we listen to closest, trust the most, and know the fullest? Where but from our very center could our greatest successes grow, and what other flower would we rather see bloom?

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