The absence of Success

I am relaxing in a crowded café, tuning in to the sound of coffee being brewed while gazing at my cup sitting on the table. The sensation of the porcelain in my hand and the aroma of the brown liquid fills my nostrils, warming my mouth and lips. The bottom of that cup is familiar. Success has been a pipe dream for me. Waiting for the cup to be filled. It seems like what is inside can only last as long as it is there.

Success, sometimes we avoid it, which is like letting the coffee go cold. Other times we partake in it, worrying when it will run out. Yet soon enough, we will reach the bottom of that cup. Cold coffee on a hot day may seem pleasant, but we need to adapt to our preferences.

I am unsuccessful in the conventional sense. The world demands the conventual, which is nothing more than appearing to be doing well by having certain things. Yet maybe it’s possible to do well, to chase this elusive success by identifying it as being yourself. Life is ever-changing and moving, and everything is impermanent. We cannot take it for granted, yet often we do. We do not notice what we have. Having money, a career, good looks, and material things are what we envision. But some things remain far from our grasp, even when we are working towards our goals. Perhaps the secret is to anchor success to its original position in life.

There is a statement I use. One you might also find helpful. It is, “I am doing well.” Despite how you are feeling or what is going on for you, this statement can create a space to acknowledge that every time you breathe the air. When you wake up in the morning and can see shadows and light in your bedroom.

When you get dressed and when you put your shoes on. Every time you eat something or drink a cup of tea or coffee, and every time, you feel emotions and reach out with happiness or sadness. Or when you connect with another person. Those things are a sign of success. You are okay as a person because you have accomplished being alive, and this outshines any other thing you could ever accomplish in life. There is never a moment of unsuccessfulness.

We never have to see the cup as empty because it is full of the presence that you are giving it. The table upholds it. And the floor upholds the table, and on it goes. Success is something you give to the world through your meaning. Objects and life phenomena serve to only remind you of what was already inside of you. This is the mystery of experiencing success. That you are that image and not the world around you. The world can never take it away, even when your cup appears to be empty or when your circumstances come up trump. A sense of absence is really a sense of something being present. So then, there is only ever a presence and fullness of the absence of success or a presence and fullness of success. There is nowhere success is not.

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