I am succeeding.

This seems, to me, and especially when writing about me, to be a bold statement. I draw from the tail-end of a popular quote:

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Two people I love dearly are finding their lives easier because I’m around. I’m not lavishing gifts on them, they don’t have all my attention all of the time, I’m not able to solve all their problems and I can cause them frustration even as I’m trying to help. Both have told me though, directly and indirectly, that their lives are easier because I am alive.

I think this is important because today’s media landscape presents popular images of heroic intervention and outstanding contributions. These exist and are to be applauded, of course, but the everyday stuff of listening, nudging, encouraging and believing also makes an enormous and underappreciated difference. Quietly, even the most timid person can contribute in generous ways; with their attention alone, if that’s all they feel they can offer.

Success is qualitative – not a number of likes, followers, readers, dollars, or accolades. Are we helping one other? Would we help another person if it didn’t increase those unimportant numbers? This is, in my view, is to succeed.

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