Monday, February 18, 2008

Success is Counted Sweetest

Posted by Lisa Marnell

A poem by Emily Dickinson

Success is counted sweetest
By those who ne'er succeed.
To comprehend a nectar
Requires sorest need.

Not one of the purple host
Who took the flag to-day
Can tell the defintion,
So clear, of victory,

As he, defeated, dying,
On whose forbidden ear
The distant strains of triumph
Break, agonized and clear.

This is a poem I loved in grade eight. I've been unpacking boxes. I found my grade eight english text -- I saved it all these years. I loved that class, as I loved all my English classes through high school.

This poem was one of my favorites. It resonated with me. How often do we long for something, wish things were different, in writing, but certainly in life, too? Does winning feel as good as losing feels bad?

Huh? Okay, so I'm not Emily Dickinson - big surprise there.

I suppose my point - thank goodness I do have a point - is I wonder if the heartache of longing for something, in writing, in life, is greater than the joy of attaining that something. Like many of you, my status as an author is still a work in progress. My status in many areas of my life is ongoing - like my role as a human in a world filled with suffering.

There's so much we - I? - take for granted: walking for starters, reading, writing, stepping outside on a beautiful day. When we don't have something, we long for it. When we have it, do we just want more? Sometimes. I suppose that's human nature, but it seems so foolish. It's a waste of time and energy and breath to want and want. Isn't it?


Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Great post, Lisa. I think one of the things I've learned--finally--is to appreciate what I have when I have it. Yes, I still set goals, I still have dreams, I'm still ambitious, but I try to remember to take the time to relish the good things, to live in the moment. When my first son was a baby, a wise older friend reminded me to not wish away the days hoping for the next stage of crawling or walking or talking because I'd never get these days back. A good thing to remember even now.

Therese said...

"It's a waste of time and energy and breath to want and want. Isn't it?"

I believe that at every level, the answer depends on the object of one's desire.

Lisa said...

I think the yearning is always more pleasurable than attaining the object of our desires. I suppose that's why we're never "finished". I think it keeps us always moving forward and as long as we remember to live in the now and be grateful for all we have and take time to enjoy the people and the beauty around us, we live a good life. Balance -- in yoga I learned that without practice, it's the first thing to go, but with constant practice and attention, we get it back very quickly. I often forget to "practice", but I'm glad it's not hard to find it once I put my mind to it. :)

Larramie said...

Anticipation can be thrilling, but the present is meant to be enjoyed.

Lisa Marnell said...

Thanks, all, for your comments. Sometimes life gives you a dose of reality. It makes you reminisce, and question choices. I am thankful I do write. It is such sweet therapy.


Sustenance Scout said...

Wanting something, working toward it, hoping we'll achieve it...all these things motivate and move us, and it's all good...even when we fall short of our goal or achieve it and find it less than perfect. The journey's still worth it! K.

Anonymous said...

Insightful thoughts.

Terry Finley

Lisa Marnell said...

For me the journey's worth it because it's therapeutic.

Monster Paperbag said...

emily dickinson is one of my favorite poets and i do love this piece, especially this line: "On whose forbidden ear/The distant strains of triumph/Break, agonized and clear." thanks for sharing.