It was beautiful as I walked to work today. The sun was warm, buds fat on the trees and bushes, and the air felt washed clean as it hit my lungs. Other people in our family are currently living through a dark time – the death of one of their closest friends from cancer, leaving her partner and 12 year old son. I find – and have always found – the relentless push of the seasons a great comfort when thinking about death.
The spring morning, every bird and leaf, was right here – right now. In spite of all the pain, beauty persists – life persists. I have a particular vivid memory of watching the sun glinting on the rippled surface of a river, the very morning my sister died.
I have been thinking a great deal recently about what constitutes success. When the government look with concern at our un-measured children they worry about success. When we ourselves succumb to moments of doubt about home educating, we worry about success. The spectre of failure lurking in the shadows – it haunts our whole world. And yet, it seems to me, we are so pitifully unaware of what success is. We are coached to chase it, chase it all our lives, and it is always just ahead of us – one more hurdle, one more qualification, one more promotion, one more pound.
Yesterday I read an article about people killing themselves at a Renault plant, where they were under extreme pressure to be successful – to be creative to order. How insane is our world that we should take people’s innate drive to create and make it into a weapon they eventually turn against themselves? How powerful is the spectre of failure that people sentence themselves to death if they feel its hand upon them?
For me, success is in the tiny moments. It isn’t in the certificates, the prizes, the appreciation. It isn’t in the smug lists of all that I can do – it isn’t in the cv. It isn’t invested in successful adults that my children must become. It isn’t in the unblemished record or the heroic comeback. It is in the tiny moments of peace. It is in the second that I pause to look at a sleeping child’s face. It is in the laugh that I can’t suppress. It is in the sun on my face on a spring morning. It is in life – it is life.