Defining Success: Yet

I was logged in to work, early for a Friday morning that is, when Laddu, also logged into her school iPad in the same room, walked up to me. Her face was serious. I removed my ear phones and gave her my full attention preparing myself to send a note to her teacher whatever the issue was about.

Before I could ask her what it was, she held out her iPad, the screen filled with pictures of famous authors.

“You are not in here.”

Her statement was simple. Final.

I looked at her, at her iPad and debated if I should laugh or take her seriously. Straddling a middle line, I explained to her that the people on her list were all established writers. They had written a lot of books, read by a lot of children like her. Her amma had just one book out, one that was not read by a lot of people. My picture was unlikely to make that list. I smiled as if that would help with the dismay on her face.

She looked at the list again, looked at me and then brightened.

“You are not on the list… yet. You will be.”

Feeling satisfied with her explanation, she walked away. I slumped back in my chair.

How does one handle expectations as humungous as that of a resolute six year old’s? My mind caught hold of the “yet” in her statement. I have a lifetime ahead of me. Her idea of famous is being listed on PebbleGo. My idea of famous has already been met when she was dismayed that her mom was not on that list.

It took me a few minutes to think about success, fame and legacy and how over the years, those terms have come to mean completely different things. Today, success seems very much like being the light of my children’s eyes. It feels like the validation I get at work from colleagues and friends. Fame pretty much feels like being approached to be on the board of an organization doing work in an area I care about.

I do not know what that “yet” will look like in a few years but nothing can top the feeling from this morning.

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