In the age of Donald Trump*, it might do to re-visit our definition of success.
Is the easy definition money? One need not look to Trump alone to drift to this conclusion. It's simple; it's quantifiable. It's kind of a dumb definition, right? To quote Mr. Bernstein in Citizen Kane, "It's no trick to make a lot of money, if all you want to do is make a lot of money.**" There's got to be some better definition.
Committing one's soul to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?
Nah... Had you going with that one, didn't I?
A full life, filled with love, laughter, friends, work that excites you, and repeated viewings of Paul Verhoeven's Robocop?
Sure, that'll do just fine.
But how can I measure those intangibles? How can I make a simpler, better form of success as undeniable as the riches that somehow make
Here's the best way I can come up with:
Imagine yourself at the age of 10. Now, describe your current life to the child-you. Don't skip over anything, but really try to sell the experience of you in the present, despite the fact that your mark has no choice but to eventually buy the product.
Here's my pitch to Mac Boyle, age 10, circa 1994:
How about that last episode of Next Gen? Yeah. Twenty-two years later, it still holds up***.
Who am I? I'm you. I'm from a little over twenty years in the future. Yes, you can travel through time, but it’s more of an intellectual exercise. Little disappointments are a part of life.
What's the world of the twenty-ten's like? It's... It's fine. No, there isn't commonplace space travel. Truth be told, the US doesn't even have its own spacecraft anymore. I'd say "Thanks, Obama," but the irony wouldn't play at this point in the space-time continuum.
What do I do in the future? Well, that's a complica-- No. It's not that complicated. I'm a writer. You're going to be a writer. As I write this blog, you have four books behind you, with another one on the way. Things will only grow from there. Are you rich? Are you famous? Well, the publishing industry works a little bit differently in the future...
I know you're a fearful kid. I'm not quite sure what it is about you that makes you think one mistake will ruin your life forever. I blame that time you stayed up late and caught a stray episode of the Freddy Krueger TV Series. The thirty seconds you watched of Stephen King's IT in 1990 didn't help either. While the world can be a scary place, there is a lot less to be afraid of than you think.
Life has plenty of good in it. There are many friends. Each has a connection to various points in your life. You'll get to keep up with all of them through the wonder of Facebook. What's Facebook? It's-- No. I'm not going to tell you. I wouldn't want to ruin all the... fun?
A TV show essentially about Doc Brown and Marty McFly, except Doc Brown has a profound drinking problem. The Melodica cover of the Jurassic Park theme. The former Governor of Alaska. There will be plenty to laugh at in the future.
At the time of this writing, it's Saturday night. You're watching Babylon 5 on DVD****. You're sitting with your wife. You've been married four years. She gets you. That's as rare as you already suspect. You're pretty sure you get her, too.
You lucked out.
And what's more? You can watch Robocop any time you want. Seriously, DVDs are great.
So, what do you think, kid? You okay with becoming me?
*With all due prayers to Krom that such an era ends soon.
**Yep. I can quote Citizen Kane without looking it up. You'll get used to it in this blog, my books, and when I talk in my sleep.
***It was the only cultural milestone from 1994 that I could remember. Had to find some sort of ice breaker for the old boy.
****I really should have warned him about the advent of DVD. I could have saved a fortune.