Sunday, March 8, 2009

The price of success

Writing about one’s personal life is not as easy as it seems, especially when the would be title of your post is “How I screwed up my life”
It gives you that strange feeling you get when you go to the doctor and the nurse asks you to take off your clothes and put on the funny gown that leaves your bare ass hanging out.
It is not a pleasant feeling but you know you have to do it if you want to feel better.

I was driving this morning and the traffic was just horrific. I thought to myself “I’ve never seen it this bad and it is getting worse every year” and then it hit me:
Nothing is as good as it used to be.
The prices of houses, the taxes, the pollution, the congestion, the infrastructure crumbling. The city is slowly falling apart.

Los Angeles used to be a terrific city to live in but that has attracted more and more people and now we are losing what was making this place so attractive in the first place. The city is falling victim to its own success.

So let’s go back to my story.
After finishing my six month training at ITT I was ready to get a job, get off welfare and do what I planed to do when I defected.
Be an American!

There was a tiny problem though; I couldn’t get past the job interview stage.
For the first time in thirteen month I had a shadow of doubt in my soul.
I was doing something wrong and I did not know what.
A very good friend of mine asked me one day: “Do you really want to get a job?”
Of course I wanted a job, a real life, a future. I wasn’t planning to spend the rest of my life on welfare.
“So then, - she said to me – you have to get a hair cut, trim your beard, get yourself into a white shirt, a tie and a two piece suit.”
(You see at that time I was looking like Che Guevara dressed up for a disco night club :)

I did not understand what my looks had to do with my job interview but I was getting pretty desperate so I transformed myself into a businessman look alike and bingo!
The first job interview I got my first solid offer.

I sometimes wonder how my life would have been if I didn’t make that first compromise.
But that it is pretty much academic now. I took the compromise, I cut my hair and as the mythical Samson with my hair I lost some of my magic.

The reward was an amazing job in the entertainment industry, with an excellent salary and a wide open opportunity for growth and advancement.

I thought that my happiness would soar at this point but instead I found myself slipping down on a slope of fatigue, stress and depression.
Some how I have replaced my dreams with a routine: Make more money, buy more things, pay more bills.
Some how I was making more and more compromises in every aspect of my life, until life itself had become pointless.

My belly was getting fat but my soul was getting lost.
I was feeling like one of those guinea pigs in the round running wheel, running faster and faster but with no finish line insight, with no big price to win, with no victory celebration, joust running in circles.
Success for me was coming at a higher price than I expected.

So I wonder if success always comes at a price.
I wonder if other people had to compromise in their lives like I did.
Am I alone in screwing up my life or did some of you out there have a similar story?


Barry said...

Everything comes at a price. Success has its price. Failure has its price. Everything entangles us in the world more deeply . . . unless we understand why we do what we do. For me, the ongoing challenge is to accept the consequences - the price - of my actions.

Diomedies said...

So my question is, would you suggest to someone else in that same position to cut his hair to try and get a job?

Sylvie said...

Almost all of us compromise something just to pay the bills. Some of us do jobs that we'd call nothing less than selling our souls if we were being honest.

The fortunate realize when they've made too much of a compromise, and can remedy it.

Yep, I think without the haircut things would have been totally different. Change the clothes, change the man. But, they may not have been better.

If these are the dreams of Vishnu, who's to say they're not as they should be :)

LLnL said...

I must have missed the part about you screwing up your life, but no your not alone. I have made choices through out my life in order to please loved ones. Somehow I believe people when they told me that my opinion, view and desires were the wrong way to go. It has lead me to a path of insecurity and doubting myself and my ability to make good decision.

I do not blame anyone but myself. My some of beliefs and values got me into trouble: making mistakes should be avoided at all cost, your elders always know more than you, be cautious when trusting yourself but freely trust those that love you. My sister grew up with the same parents, in the same environment with the same advice that I did. Still she knows what she wants and makes no apologies for it. Not only that, she is the respected one in the family. Not because she is more respectable but because her confidence in her self helps ore family feel assured that she will make the right choose.

Now I have a lifetime of bad habits to work through, but I am excited as the witness the beauty and magic in a life that is mine. To do what I want the way that I want. With every breathe that I take I have the freedom to change direction at any given moment. I no longer look at my past missteps as failures, but instead as stepping stones to get to the path that I am currently on.

I'll admit that I wish I would have learned these lessons earlier in life, but I would not have the many blessing that I have right now, so no regrets.

Talon said...

"Screwing up" or simply "life lessons"? Every misstep, every mistake, has valuable lessons...and each of us, being unique, have to make our own...

Anonymous said...

We all compromise in life ... and it makes us what we are today. To say it is a total screw up seems like admitting defeat or saying there is no chance to change. There is lots we would do differently if we knew THEN what we know now ... but we can't change it, so on we all go.

mickael said...

when a rock is dropped, it falls. a rock to fail in doing so is yet to be known. those, who know it, chose their paths. those, who don't, have paths choose them.

i am yet to see a child who can inherently see that choice. i am yet to see a child who does not learn.

thus experience is the key to understanding that one can change ways right here, right now.

good luck.

C. Om said...

I've had a similar experience. The good thing about it, it shows you what is has true value and importance in life. It is a nice wake up call.

Mark said...

I think your tale is a common one. The key is define and understand what you believe success is and then live your life to that model that you created. We do not have to compromise to be successful we simply have to have our unique definition of success. It is not too late, you still can walk away from it, grow your hair and dress like you want, you simply have to choose to be your authentic self whatever that may be.

Buddha said...

@ Barry – I love people that ask questions, they are the people that grow.
People that have all the answers are dead already!

@ Diomedies – I can’t eat for you and I can’t breathe for you.
You can put on a yellow robe and live on the streets like Buddha or you can join the corporate world.
It is your journey to make not mine!

@ Sylvie – We all have different lives. That makes it so interesting :)

@ LLnL – It is what a very wise man once said: “I am that I am”
You just put it in more words than that.

@ Talon – The difference between “screwing up” and “life lessons” is if we learned something or not :)

@ Aggie – I wouldn’t say it was a total screw up, but it was one of my best.

@ Mickel – Growth is change. We learn we grow. We stop learning we are already dead – even if we are still breathing :)

@ C Om – I think we all have similar experiences even if some of us wouldn’t admit it!

@ Mark – There is only one measure and definition of success: Happiness.
I failed because I chose to define my success as material posesion.

Lydia said...

Compromise is such an interesting word. When used to describe an action between two people or among groups, it's altogether positive. When used in the singular, i.e., "I had to compromise myself in this situation," or "It became necessary to compromise my morals to get that job," then it is distasteful. In your case it seems there was some of compromised your true physical appearance to get a great job, but your compromise with your wife or family to not stay on welfare made for more stability for them.

I will say that I hated office work from the time I began part time during college until I left decades later in 2000 when my mother was dying (never went back). You must preserve your health, your very soul, in the face of most jobs in today's world.

Judging from your post and all the comments I think it's comforting to realize that nearly everyone feels the same. Best we can do for one another is be ever so kind.

Flight said...

All of us are born for a reason, but all of us don't discover why. Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others.

Put your future in good hands - your own.

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own.
And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go. that ones from Dr. Seuss

Look, I can do this all day, but I'm sure that you of all people know that all you will ever need is inside you .

Talon said...

I tend to think that if you keep screwing up, you'll keep doing it UNTIL you learn that particular lesson.

Brigit said...

You cut your hair, shaved your beard and got a job. Then you got caught on the merry go round. Often we need to experience something to know if its wrong or right for us. Surely this would have seemed like your golden opportunity at the time. It's what you take with you from that, that's important. You can see it all through negative eyes if you want to or you can turn it into positive knowledge, experience, skills that you have gained along the way.