We’re snobs. We think that education and money and power and prestige and Dr.-Big-Britches-says-so makes up the sum total of a person.
Again and again, I read accounts of famous orators, writers, artists, scientists – all who have a resume that reads like Robbie the Reject, until that one magical turning point in their lives when the rest of the world recognized their brilliance. (Often this is some days after their obituary has appeared in the local paper.) Were they all colossal idiots who one day got infected with genius DNA? Or do we have a skewed perception of what success as a human being really means?
Take this famous American: He had 10 older brothers and sisters to beat him up, grew up in a town named after his father (try getting a fair shake in that club), and lived so far out in the boonies that he learned to read by watching his mother. Obviously homeschooled, he misbehaved his way to getting the boot out of Yale, then wrote a book purely on a dare (his wife’s), and because he didn’t believe there was anything else worth reading. For his first book, he literally wrote like a girl. Epic fail. Not one for subtle hints, he wrote a series of other books that finally landed him some respectability – and hopefully a few bucks.
Who was this Loser?
I’ll give you a photo hint…
James Fenimore Cooper
That’s right. This historical hottie wrote one of the best-loved books of all time – The Last of the Mohicans. Set against our snooty-toot modern definition of success, this guy is a tragic blip of backwoods boob. I mean, come on – homeschoolers don’t make anything of themselves. We all know you have to have an expensive university degree to rise in society. If you spend years on a project – say, writing a book – that turns out to be utter poo, only a moron would try it again.
Thank goodness we have so many parents, teachers, counselors, investors, politicians, and total strangers telling us how to go about our daily lives. That’s why we’re surrounded by so much success and elevated thinking. (Smell the sarcasm?) Why, I’ll bet they raise the national IQ to 260 before long! (No, wait. It was lowered recently to 80.)
They say history is written by the winners. I say we have a responsibility to look at history with our point of view, and to redefine success as a life well-lived. No strings attached.
How do you define success? What is success for yourself, as opposed to other people?
- Famous and Celebrity Days for September 15 2011 (blippitt.com)
- Wilderness in The Pioneers (aml4453uf.wordpress.com)
- Writer’s Almanac (http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/)