Success under most circumstances is unmeasurable, and that can be incredibly frustrating!
Some people are fortunate, because they live in the world of concrete facts, statistics and bench marks. LaDanian Tomlinson, of the San Diego Chargers, knows he's a good football player because he has over 1000 rushing yards for this season. Or Michael Dell know's he's a successful business man because he's the 9th wealthiest person in America and he founded the world's largest computer manufacturing company.
But what about the rest of us, what about our other goals. Many days I feel like I'm much more like Hugh Jackman's character in the Prestige, or Abigail Breslin's iconic Olive from Little Miss Sunshine. It's hard to evaluate how we're doing as a magician, how can you begin to know if you're the best magician. Is it ticket sales? Is it your own level of personal satisfaction? The faces in the crowd? Or how about young Olive. Did she walk away from the Little Miss Sunshine pageant the biggest winner or the biggest loser? How can you tell.
Even in my current job, there are both measurable goals and unmeasurable goals, and even if I do my very best job, somedays I feel like Abigail Breslin, that my success can't be measured on the typical scale, rather a scale of abstraction, were I have to know that I have done the best I can.
I think many of us, wish we could evaluate our personal level of success better. Especially when it comes to family issues. My wife and I recently watched the only-mildly-entertaining film The Family Stone, and I think the journey of Sarah Jessica Parker's character (Meredith Morton) is not atypical. Here someone who generally feels confident about themselves, is forced into an arena where they feel they have to prove themselves, and the smallest of things effect the perception of of her characters success.
I think that's why American television is always filled with stories about police officers, lawyers, and doctors. At the end of the day there are ways for a police officer to tell they were successful. On CSI they always solve the crime, on Law and Order justice is served, and on House M.D. they figure out how to cure the odd disease. Even Jack Bauer is almost always able to foil the terrorist at the last minute, and when something goes wrong, viewers are forced to reconcile the situation with the knowledge that it could have been worse.
I think sometimes I hope that there will be a point in my life were I have the Mr. Holland's Opus moment where people all around me from every stage of life are able to help me see how I was successful as a person and that in the world of intangibles, my sacrifice and my effort made a difference on eternity.
Yet, it's all flawed human logic. The other day I was reading Psalms 115 and in achieved and unachieved goals my prayer has been: "Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory."
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