What makes a successful life? As we enter an era of decreasing expectations and lowered living standards, we can welcome the growing recognition that focus on material accumulation fails to deliver lasting contentment. The Protestant ethic of ambition and accomplishment likewise is proving unreliable, as it becomes harder and harder to achieve amidst intensifying competition.
Of course, by midlife most of us recognize that satisfaction more reliably derives from aligning life toward love. We appreciate the comfort gained from attending to our circle of friends and family.
So can life be considered successful if we develop deep and abundant relationships? Certainly these go a long way toward creating happiness, but an intractable problem remains. All our loved ones are mortal. Tragedy could strike and unexpectedly deprive us of those we hold most dear. And even if no unexpected calamity occurs, the relentless passage of time will eventually sever all our attachments.
Why curse anyone or anything?
Whatever harms us
May help us in the end.
Whoever insults us
May teach us about ourselves.
Fate is the black cat crossing our path:
Bad luck until it curls on our lap and purrs.
Enemies may be confused friends.
There is nothing to be convinced of here.
Nothing to be fully understood.
The ground is not solid.
The earth is not fixed.
And fate is alive.