I Need a New Metric.
There is a man.
A certain man.
And for the poor you may be sure
That he’ll do all he can!
Who is this one?
This fav’rite son?
Just by his action
Has the Traction magnates on the run.
Who loves to smoke?
Enjoys a joke?
And wouldn’t get a bit upset
If he were really broke.
With wealth and fame,
He’s still the same.
I’ll bet you five you’re not alive
If you don’t know his name.
I don’t know what to shoot for anymore. The target has changed. The bullseye is missing altogether. I have no idea where to aim.
Success is the first word that comes to mind. However, success can be a dicey proposition. I know people who are incredibly successful at what they do and they’re among the most miserable people I know. Not all of them, mind you. I’m certainly not saying that success is bad. It’s just that it doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness. It’s not as cut and dry as you’d think it would be. As it turns out, success is something we often fail to properly define.
Rich is risky. A lot of things can go wrong with being rich. I’d love to not need to worry about money anymore. There’s an awful lot of stress that comes with not having enough. Every morning you have to check your bank account and you’re always counting down the days until payday.
When you don’t have enough money, it’s easy to wind up going into debt and you worry about paying your bills. You stress out about work and finding a way to get a raise or a new job that pays better. It can also put a lot of strain on your relationships. Money is in the top three of the most common things that couples argue about. The other two are sex and kids.
But just like being successful, I know quite a few people who are totally loaded and completely unsatisfied with their lives. I know people who used to be poor and happy, then they got rich and it all fell apart for them. And look at what happens to those people who win the lottery? It is not always a blessing. A Florida study reported that close to 70% of lottery winners go broke within five years.
Fame is no better. I’m sure it’s nice at first, but if you’re a private person it could be a tremendous hindrance. Plus, it can easily go sideways on you. It’s hard enough just to be a regular person these days and not wind up on the internet doing something incredibly stupid. I can’t imagine the intense pressure I would feel if I were famous. It would be unrelenting. I wouldn’t be able to leave the house. I do stupid stuff all the time.
So, if the standard metrics are success, money and fame, I’d have to take a very hard look at the KPIs before I signed off on any of them.
In “Citizen Kane”, Charlie Kane begins life as a young idealist who wants to make a difference for the common man. As he becomes successful, powerful and wealthy beyond imagination he becomes more and more unhappy. At the start of the film, he’s living in a room above the newspaper surrounded by friends, cohorts and collaborators. By the end of the movie, he owns the world’s greatest collection of art and antiquities but is completely alone and unloved. Rosebud indeed.
There are many noble pursuits in life that need not involve money, riches, power, or fame. One can seek to be happier. One can seek to spend more time with the people they love doing more of the things they are passionate about. Or search for more ways to find contentment. More fun. More laughs. More friends.
The word “more” spells trouble to me though. More is not completely innocent. More is not necessarily harmless. More implies there is something you have some of, but not enough. More needs to be acquired. More needs to be found. More needs to be brought home from the more store. More needs to come from somewhere or someone and if they let you have more of theirs then they will inherently have less for themselves.
But perhaps therein lies our answer? Because “more" can’t be trusted, perhaps “less” is a word that deserves more attention. It’s quite possible that less is much more powerful. In fact, I think less is a sleeping giant. Unlike more, less implies that you are already in possession of that which you seek but you simply need to rid yourself of that which you find to be excessive.
That sounds easier. It's not. But at least it sounds that way.
I want less fear. People are so fearful of things that are new, things they don’t understand, things that are different. It causes an awful lot of problems. Think of how much more we could learn from people, places and things if we were less fearful of them.
I’d love to have less worry in the world. I think people, myself included, get so caught up in worry that it drives us bonkers, hinders our sleep and turns us into Cranky Frankies. I worry all the time. I worry about work. I worry about the kids. I worry that Elon Musk is trying to interfere with the war in Ukraine by cutting off their access to Starlink which they need to control their drones.
Less anger would be nice. We get so angry about things sometimes. I have this neighbor who I call Angry Kenny because his name is Kenny and he’s always angry. One day the power went out at and there was a utilities crew trying to fix the problem. They discovered what the issue was and determined that they would need help from another crew in order to handle it. But they only spoke Spanish and couldn’t explain this to Kenny who was screaming at them as he filmed them with his iPhone.
I went down to see what was going on, but I had been working in my woodshop and I was wearing coveralls, a ski-hat and work gloves. Kenny didn’t recognize me and due to my attire assumed I was part of the crew so he starts screaming at me and filming me with his iPhone. Luckily, I speak English and could explain to Kenny that I was his neighbor and to please stop filming me. I’m also lucky to speak enough Spanish that I could tell the guys on the crew that, “El hombre es enojado porque tiene un pene pequeño.”
I wish there was less sadness. Less hatred. Less suffering. Less arguing. Less fighting. Less stress. Less pressure. Less divisiveness. Less greed. Less danger. Less lying. Less unfairness. Less waste.
The more I think about less, the more I like it. It could be the metric I’m looking for. And I know that everyone is different, but it could be what we’re all looking for...
more or less.
Thanks for reading. I’ll see you again real soon.