“To Laugh Often and Much”
To Laugh Often and Much, to win the respect of intelligent people, and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics, and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
(Author: Ralph Waldo Emerson)
I’ve had to think about success a lot lately, and as fortune or serendipity would have it, I found this quote by Emerson lying around my flat. For some time now, my idea of success – indeed happiness, because for me the two are a conflation, has looked like lazy Sunday picnics, bicycle rides in the country and soft summer breezes. I didn’t always think I’d live to see me my thirtieth, and so being happy was my definition of success.
I spent years chasing after something… else, running after an elusive wisp, before it turned an unidentified corner. Well, somehow I managed to make it past that thirty year mark, and now, my idea of success has changed. My new goal is simply being content, an altogether harder quiver to fill. I will promise myself one week at a time. I shall work hard, revel in the present, honour the beauty and courage of those around me, sigh in the warmth of the sun, exhale the negative energy others may inflict and laugh. Laugh like a house caught on fire, laugh like my heart carries no anchor. I shall laugh in-spite of myself and remember to be grateful as I spread my toes in the crinkly grass. As for whether I leave the world a better place, well that’s for others to say – not I.