Success = . . . Pants?

I've been sick.

I tried to keep it quiet. Really I did. I'm actually super noble and self-restrained like that. But a girl can only languish on the couch for so long without giving in to the urge to whine. Still, I'm sure there are a few remote corners of the world who didn't heard my moans of, "URghsnerflcoughbaLEH!" and "Whhhhymeeeee?"

The thing about being sick in the lasts-for-months and always-wake-up-tired kind of way, is you're kind of forced to reevaluate your personal definition of success. For me, success used to be a day where I accomplished the following:

1) Answered all emails.
2) Wrote at least 2k.
3) Got dressed.
4) Did all dishes, some laundry, and got the house all tidied up.
5) Cooked something not out of a box.
6) Spent one-on-one time with each kid.
7) Made my husband feel loved.
8) Played the piano or sang or danced or did something musically-inspired like that.
9) De-cluttered a surface, drawer, or closet.
10) Did something nice for someone, just because.

There were days during this illness when I defined success as:

1) Put on pants today.

And other days as:

1) Did not whimper. Not even once!

And now I'm at the point where the definition is more like:

1) Wrote combinations of words that did not previously exist.
2) Helped someone feel loved.
3) Put on a bra. Maybe pants too.
4) Fed people food-like products. Maybe some real food too.
5) Picked up enough stuff for floor colour to be visible.

I've been thinking about this personal phenomenon of mine and how it applies to the world at large, and what I've realized is, NONE OF THIS APPLIES TO THE WORLD AT LARGE. Not on a micro level, anyway. My personal definition of success and its MANY variations, has no bearing on a single living soul other than myself.

Neither does my definition of a lot of words.

And in our various communities, we human beings spend a lot of time arguing about the meaning of words. About how things SHOULD be (or could be, or WOULD be if so-and-so would stop defining things wrong already). I wonder how many of those arguments would die down a bit if we could read each other's personal dictionaries for a while. I wonder how much eyebrow raising and, "Oh, THAT'S what he meant by that," would result.

Last night, I got to bed late and had a nightmare-tormented sleep. Then the kids woke me up far earlier than I was prepared to (okay, so it was 9am), and they've been bickering off and on ever since. I'm weary, and I'm out of sorts, and my personal definition of a successful day is changing accordingly. Frankly, I'm going to be so dang proud of myself if I don't put this laptop down, walk over to the top of the stairs and shout, "LEAVE YOUR LITTLE SISTER ALONE OR SO HELP ME I WILL {insert appropriately hilarious/non-violent threat}!"

But I also plan to put on pants today. At the very least. Because today's definition of success totally = pants.

I guess what I'm saying is that it's okay for us to define words differently. I kind of think we're supposed to. And the more important the word, the more we find ourselves reevaluating how we feel about it.

VanderVision Tip of the Day: Empathy is a mental exercise in which we close our eyes to our personal dictionary for a while, and try to imagine what the entries in someone else's might be. And why. This is how we learn love, and compassion, and kindness. By remembering just how narrow and individual our personal viewpoint on the world really is.

1 comment:

  1. Another dear friend of mine and I were talking several years back, and she said something very wise that has stuck with me to this day. It's very apropos to what you are saying here.
    We should always do our best, but we should also always remember that 'our best' will not necessarily be the same from one day to another.
    I hope you are firmly on the path towards not-sickness. Chronic illness is no fun for sure! :)