I reciently received a quote on achievement. It threw me into a whirlwind of thoughts and reflection. As I meditated on the verb questions and experiences rushed to the surface from unbeknownst corners of my being. Maybe it’s my early 40’s mindset, or the circumstances of recent years, a sudden panic tried to settle in. What have I achieved in my life?
I’ve often envied those who seemingly settle into their lifestyles, careers and genius. They always radiate a sense of completion. Confidently set in their commitments. Happy. They jump into their career or profession early on, make wise investments and now wear the badges of achievement. Whatever that list entails.
In my global thinking, achievement, was a grand accomplishment that has substantial influence and value. Yet I, I have never thought I earned those badges. I’ve struggled to find a niche, always successful, but never fully satisfied of the achievement. So I discounted them as mistakes, or failures. I believed that the time, valuable and short, had been wasted. Would I ever achieve? It became a driving force. I felt I could put to rest the nagging ache in my soul for completion if only I achieved something of value. Value. Yes I would have value if I guided that certain mission to the end. So I did. Many times.
My meditation slid deeper, the memories started flowing. A montage set to music of the last act of a Roy Rogers flick. Thousands of experiences spiraling into one memory, one moment. The picture became a stage play. I’m the lead. I act. The end.
I’m standing on a theater stage, cold wood floors beneath my feet, the ominous crowd before me. The lights blinding me. I’m alone on stage with sweat burning my eyes from the heat of blazing lights. Silence. I hear only my voice, my steps, my shortness of breathe.
I’ve been on this stage my whole life.
I’ve been performing and performing and pushing for that applause. That roar of acceptance. Those goosebumps of praise. I receive only silence. So I do the act again, this time with more ferver, with more of my soul. My muscles ache from the intense energy poured into the act. I’m shaken. But I deliver, every single line. I don’t miss a beat. I hit my marks as though I’m living it. I am living it. But no applause. I think I hear some snickers, some sighs, a cantankerous cough. I walk stage right. As always there’s my family, my few friends. We merge in a hug. They don’t care if I’m sweaty, drenched with despair. They cling to me because they know me. They love me. They know the struggles and what I’ve poured into this performance. They know my heart and how much I care for the audience. They know. I love them.
As I stare at these images I realize that achievement is present everywhere. This is a successful end. It’s when the curtains fell and I embraced those I love that I achieved. Love is achievement. Love is the goal we all seek. And somehow it’s misconstrued and misguided to be believed to be something entirely different.
If you’ve loved, you have achieved life at its fullest.
I can hear the echo of the last line in the play, I spill forth the words from my soul deep. It’s pure and full in every way, “achievement is only attained if you can say you have loved.”