Sunday, September 20, 2009

Bittersweet success

You've always heard people describe success as being sweet. Success, when it comes to people is sweet, no doubt. It is a heady feeling. One where the air smells sweet and fresh, the environs looks greener and prettier, hot musty weather becomes sunny and beautiful, a smile plays on your face for no reason whatsoever. Success can make all possible cares fade away. Success bestows an unforeseen level of confidence in an individual - a confidence to take on the world, in the belief that all I'd do going forward will be successful. A mystique is generated around those who are successful. Start with examples from literature. The Count of Monte Cristo, no one cared about Edmond Dantes, and used him as a pawn in their bigger games, and bundled him off to the Chateau d'If. But when he returned as the Count of Monte Cristo, to exact his revenge, he exuded an aura of success and wealth, and people flocked to him. Take sport. The world was at McEnroe's feet, in spite of his mercurial temper. The world feted Kapil Dev in 1983. Senna, Schumacher, I can't think of another S. Bjorn Borg was a legend, and people talked about Pistol Pete all the time.

I happened to see 'Romi and Michelle's high School Reunion' - a certified chick flick. Now, for those not in the know, it is a movie about these two women who have had a miserable, marginalized life in high school, who are not having a super great life 10 years after high school, but decide to go for their 10 year reunion anyway. They desperately want a make over, and wish to portray a life of success. Why? Because they feel that at least then, they would be given their due and be treated like humans. Now, the movie goes on in a typical romantic comedy way, but the message is clear. Nothing succeeds like success. And one can go to any extent just to get a morsel of a pie called success.

But what happens when success gives one the slip somewhere along the way? Well, everyone is human at the end of the day, and success can get addictive. The crave for more and more success is all-consuming. Some manage to beat the wave for a long time, but some fade away as fast as they came up. The way down is painful. Reminisces of the past, glorious life can be depressingly painful with thoughts about what you were, and what you've lost out getting the better of you. But it isn't easy shaking it all off and rising up to face a new challenge. It takes supreme courage, to pick oneself up and move on after brushing the dust off. And if one is attuned to a certain degree of success, such a change in attitude and manner of operation is not just tough, it is practically impossible. Much like the zamindaar in Satyajit Ray's Jalsaghar - in spite of his indigence, he is so consumed by his quest for pomp, that he sells every last penny, just to put on a more magnificent show. A switch to a more conservative lifestyle is impossible. And that is why we see instances of a Britney Spears losing her mind. Or a Federer losing his cool on court. The very thought of perhaps 'losing' is much too intense to bear, or face.

And at such a time, one needs to muster all courage and face life head on. For after a storm there always is sunshine. I'll end with one of my favorite quotes from the movie The Count of Monte Cristo - “Life is a storm my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout, as you did in Rome, ‘Do your worst…for I will do mine.’”

I like success, but I love the courage needed to face the failure that would lead to further success....

3 comments:

dolby said...

MAy be comment on the post later but wanted to say "Yes people do read what you write" but keeping them so depends on your writing.

Megha said...

Very well written. From the beginning to the end, I was in awe of the way bittersweet success has been described. You have the capability to hold your readers captive by the way you write. I may not have read all your blogs and have just started reading a few now, however am highly inspired and impressed. This is my first comment and I shall continue to drop in comments in future too. I like the way you have tried to convey that no matter what,pain or pleasure,success or failure, the ablest and strongest are those who have a stable mind and can handle every situation with poise and courage. Cheers!!

Sindhu Subramaniam said...

@ Dolby - Thanks a lot and I will keep that in mind while putting in more posts.

@ Megha - Thanks so much for the kind words. Very heartening to know that you like what I write in here. And yes, watching success can teach one a number of lessons, and the only thing that matters is the ability to hold on to sanity, poise and affability throughout the course of life. That said, I feel one must take special care to not let arrogance creep in when one is successful, since like they say, you will meet all those you wronged on your way up, while you move on your way down. At the same time, one must not get overly depressed if things do not go as per plan. You always have a plan B. or C or all the way to Z!!! Thanks, and do keep visiting...