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Walter Gramatté: Die Grosse Angst [The Great Fear] (1918)

" … semi-Successfully deluding myself …"

I Fear Success. I suppose I am not alone in my feelings toward it, even though anyone might argue that Fear hardly qualifies as a rational response to the threat of Success. (Yea, Success seems threatening to me!) Like all feelings, fear was never supposed to follow any rational ideal. Like all emotions, it visits on its own schedule, for its own mysterious reasons, and remains fundamentally non-rational. My job seems to be to figure out how to cope with Fear's appearances.

Success seems as though it might well complicate more than improve.
It seems determined to disrupt even an otherwise perfectly respectable status quo. Success seems a form of excess, not essential and so not necessary, either. It seems the end of something, maybe the end of striving, and striving seems the central purpose of this existence. We live just over the horizon, needing that promise for motivation. Should that aspiration be satisfied, it seems as though something essential might well die. If I'm not striving, what then?

Ask me what I want, then wait. I always seem to be uncertain about how to respond to that question. I'm sure only that I'm working in the general direction of something, but I dare not make my vision terribly tangible, for such pursuits work like two-edged swords. Should I Succeed in achieving the goal, I will have exhausted my propulsion system. Without that vision, I'd have no place to go, no direction to head. Alternatively, once I see that I will not be able to achieve an objective, I might lose my purpose. Success seems like another form of failure since its hollowing effect seems little different from what failure brings.

I am not living in a horror movie. When I say I Fear Success, I don't consider myself "sore" afraid. I'm clearly not terrified, not frozen, but wary. I'm skeptical of its promises while also dependent upon them. I can't really live with or without them, so I maintain the vaguest possible notions of what Success might bring should I ever accidentally experience it. I will deliberately avoid it, finding it inconvenient to focus and properly apply myself toward achieving it. I move forward, not really hoping for the best but hoping to avoid the worst somehow. I prefer to travel hopefully rather than arrive. I'm not excited by the prospect of this striving's end, so I pretend it's infinite, semi-Successfully deluding myself instead.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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