The horse's pasture to the East...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

SUCCESS at any price....

Success. It's an interesting word, isn't it? If you ask people what their definition of success is, you get a different answer nearly every single time.

I went to a party this past weekend, at a friend's house. Since we've never been to one of her pot lucks, there were lots of new people to meet. And, being a bit gregarious, I had fun talking... and talking. It's easy to carry on a conversation when everything you have to say is new, and everything they have to respond with is just as fresh. Before I went, I decided to carry out a little experiment. I was going to ask, in the course of each conversation with all of these potential acquaintances, what their definition was of the word SUCCESS.

Now, I'm pretty good at talking. I love a good story and love to tell one even more. It isn't usually hard for me to find a common thread and keep it going all night long. And the results are always fascinating. So, I asked my question, slipping it into the conversation between horses and politics.

"Can I ask you something? What's your definition of success? How do you define it?" There were a few people who were surprised by my experimental question, but most were more than happy to talk about it.

Some felt that success was the number of academic achievements they had and the career that came from those degrees (We do live in a town with two universities and only 30 or 40 minutes from several other universities and colleges, so I would have been surprised if this one didn't show up during the evening's festivities.). Other's said that the home they had paid off or the car they were driving was a symbol of success for them.

" I have three wide, flat screen TV's that are all 48 inches and two are high definition." That was an unexpected one...and very funny to me. We don't even have cable at our place. If you can't tell, it was a guy talking.

Another said " I have four horses and I started my two year old colt myself this year."

One guy, someone who had dealt with severe depression the past two years and had been reduced to living in his car as a result, was just happy to be working again as a carpenter. He's also a cowboy who now has two horses and a dog. His story was the most profound and, I think, told to me in confidence. I don't think I'll write the details here. But he's genuinely happy. And he's the one who stays with me all these days later. He was the only one who talked about happiness.

When you look up the definition of SUCCESS in the New Webster's dictionary, it says : n. (I'll skip the latin roots here) 1. orig., result, outcome 2. a) a favorable or satisfactory outcome or result b) something having an outcome 3. The gaining of wealth, fame, rank, etc. 4. a successful person

Doesn't really say much, does it? Maybe that's why we all have our own definition. Me? I think I go with the formerly homeless cowboy. I go with happiness. But I choose that on a smaller day to day scale.

I call it a successful day when I find the shoe Lucky threw, against all odds, out in the pasture. The sun was going down and it was hard to see out there, but it was time well spent because my best friend...was out there with me. And so was my ageing dog, Gypsy. We walked along the edge of our pond, looking for the missing shoe. I knew it was probably going to be out there. The mud is gooey and always sucks my boots off if I go wading. Makes sense that it would probably be where a 1000 pound horse might loose his shoes too.

We had our adventure together, laughing and talking. I went out into the pond to check one of the hoof prints, thinking there was something sticking up out of the bottom. It was the edge of a turtle's shell. In my haste to withdraw, I lost my boots in the pond. But my finger was intact (it was a snapping turtle) and we were both laughing. Not a bad trade, all things considered.

We kept looking, talking about the news of the day while our eyes were down. Gypsy snuffled along with me, looking for potential dead stuff to roll in. And since my feet were now squishy and the sun was going down, it seemed like a good time to call it quits. (My hope is that pond mud is like any other mud pack; good for your skin. If so, then my feet should be gorgeous tomorrow!)

On the way back to the paddock, there it was! Lucky's shoe, gleaming in the grass, slightly bent and with 5 of the 6 nails still in the shoe. I'd found it! It was kind of like winning a lottery or something.

I'm cutting this one short. Ethan brought his Mom and Dad for a visit (next door neighbors). They're the kind of folks who live with everyday success too. But more on that later.

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