Success: form your own opinion, I can’t even…


success |səkˈses|
the accomplishment of an aim or purpose: the president had some success in restoring confidence.
• the attainment of popularity or profit: the success of his play.
• a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity: I must make a success of my business.
• archaic the outcome of an undertaking, specified as achieving or failing to achieve its aims: the good or ill success of their maritime enterprises.
ORIGIN mid 16th cent.: from Latin successus, from the verb succedere ‘come close after’ (see succeed) .

That above is the Apple OS system software Dictionary’s definition.

I’ve been thinking about success a lot lately. What does it mean? Who decides success? What is the context? Is it a mortgage on a big house? Is it possessing a boat or an Audi/Porsche/some other exotic expensive car?

Is success money? Is it property? Is it physical well being, mental well being? Is success having a firm grasp of happiness even in the face of adversity?

Is success the attainment of a goal such as climbing a mountain? Who decides the context of that mountain? The mountain could be a one mile walk or summiting Mt. Everest. The mountain could be moving without pain, or getting to be debt free.

I’m entering into the forth month of consistently attending bikram yoga classes several times per week and the 5th month of consistently attending olympic weightlifting classes.

Let me enter this fact into the record; I am a beginner at bikram and I have some idea of what is going on but I am a complete neophyte with other forms of yoga and I am striving to do them all.

I am a beginning weightlifter but not a beginning weight lifter. There is a difference.

I have an idea of how to quantify and qualify success at weight lifting which is simply lifting heavier weight, I have the data to prove this. It’s what I love about strength training, you either pick that heavy shit up, or you don’t. It’s that simple.

3 months of a consistent training on my bicycle will yield measurable results of being able to ride further, ride faster and ride fitter. Those are quantifiable markers.

Data. I have data that indicate variable measures of success in weight lifting and bicycling. How do I define success in bikram yoga, what sort of data should I have or should I even consider recording any data?

I find bikram to be very vulgar and I love it. It’s highly regimented; do a posture, come back to center and force yourself to acknowledge yourself, physically and mentally, to reset. Some days it takes a while before I can look myself in the eyes. Some days I accept myself for who/what I am immediately. Is that success?

Let’s look at that again: some days it takes awhile before I can look myself in my eyes, some days I accept myself immediately.

You are tasked with the directive to acknowledge yourself, to acknowledge that where you are at that moment is just fine, that it’s where you need to be.

I have a close friend who’s been going to bikram classes for ten years. Her definition of success is that she’s made it to another class, consistently.

One might find they need to rest with decreasing frequency, one might find they have more control over their breathing, one may find forgiveness for themselves in not attaining a posture, one may find acceptance of what they perceive as physical faults. One may find forgiveness and acceptance of themselves, period.

Perhaps my ideas of success in bikram yoga could use a bit of finessing.

Bikram requires me to have a blank mind, to utterly concentrate on myself or I simply cannot get into my personally scaled versions of the postures.

I fail.




I let what made me angry about myself the day before take over. I let the horror show of my middle-aged paunchy mid-section make me angry with my diet (myself). I let the person flopping and flailing next to or in front of me, creating all sorts of distractions dictate a story in my mind how they have such little regard for anyone else, they have zero self-awareness. I let the fear of shoulder pain in Eagle prevent me from exploring it further. I let some anger of something that happened years ago simmer up to the surface and rather than release it, I try to shove it back below which means it’ll resurface at some point at some later date.

If acceptance is the goal, than why bother to actively pursue improvement?

The human body and mind are made for constant movement and improvement. If one isn’t improving, one is stagnating.

My individual successes in bicycling are reaching a minimum number of thousands of miles ridden in a years time, of riding certain events in measurable levels of fitness, of cementing friendships in all variances of riding events.

My idea of individual success in weightlifting has become more esoteric than simply weight hoisted overhead, but rather how I feel with the movements and I how my coaches feel about my movements, am I actually learning the movements. Ultimately I do look forward to the day I can snatch my bodyweight and at that point I might consider moving out of my favorite Chuck Taylor canvas flat shoes and into weightlifting shoes.

In bikram yoga, rather than achieving the flexibility in my hamstrings that has always eluded me or that perfect balancing stick or tree, maybe success would look like tolerance, empathy and acceptance not only of others, but also of myself and in return those physical changes I’d like to see on myself would happen organically through trusting the process and consistent effort.

But no, I want it all right now!


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