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Lucian and Mary Brown:
Untitled [child floating in water] (c. 1950)

" … and it's "just" a feeling."

The Successful seem subject to overall less gravity weighing down their lives. They seem to Levitate above many of the most common human concerns. While I'm almost certain they are subjected to precisely the same gravitational forces the rest of us carry, those forces seem to affect the Successful differently. They seem less a burden, less encumbering as if they possessed their gravity rather than gravity possessing—owning—them. The unsuccessful seem like some onerous forces owned them, invisible yet seemingly inescapable. Maybe just an attitude distinguishes one from the other. If so, that difference sure seems to make a huge difference. They've always insisted that success breeds success, but it does more than that. It's like Success bestows a higher rate of return. The Successful seem to earn more than their more disappointed counterparts for the same amount of effort. Life does not seem to get them in the same way it gets others.

The Successful seem to age more slowly.
They don't wrinkle like others do. Their burden seems lighter and their outlook more positive, as if they can afford to be happier than average. They lean into their lives rather than shrink back from their challenges. They seem to expect positive outcomes. They engage as if their dice were loaded, as if they were somehow protected from the worst of the usual downside risks, and I'll be damned if this outlook doesn't deliver! It's as if the Successful engage in serial self-fulfilling prophesies. They see a hill coming, and they just climb it. They don't lose their differential to a pothole on the way to town. They turn around and return without incident, but they seem to avoid the worst externalities, even if misfortune befalls them. A Good Samaritan's likely been following closely behind them to help. They stumble without scuffing their shoes.

Have you noticed how premium venues tend to offer an awful lot of complimentary amenities? Of course, the premium prices can cover many indiscretions, but the perks seem to fall most heavily upon those who do not seem to need them. The guy making mid-six figures qualifies for a free ride to the airport, while the hapless homeless guy in the gutter beside him does not. The free breakfast goes to the higher bidder, along with the free upgrade to the suite and the complimentary beverages of their choice at the bar. A free dessert might even be included in the special prix fix dinner deal, as if anyone could have room for even free cheesecake after swallowing a hunk of prime rib the size of their own thigh. The rules just work differently for those considered successful, even if one's success doesn't exhibit itself financially.

Pauper though I might be, I see how differently I interact with my world whenever I'm feeling Successful. Success must first be a feeling that profoundly influences how one experiences their existence. Its absence seems to encourage minor aches and pains to dominate one's foreground consciousness. Its presence a potent analgesic. The usual aches and pains influence little under Success's influence. One's head seems lighter and clearer, too. Success seems to work like oxygen for the human spirit. A deep breath clears more than just thinking. With thought clear, everything seems so much more doable. I wish the unsuccessful could feel the liberating sense Success imparts. There's no physical transformation when Success appears, but there's just no denying its existence, and it's "just" a feeling. When I'm feeling Successful, I sense myself as invincible; I'm Levitating above the care-worn crowd. When not, I'm not.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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