I’ve admired Arnold Schwarzenegger for decades, literally. Not because he was the world’s best actor -rolls eyes- definitely not because of that. No, I admired him for making the American Dream work for him. For being smart enough to succeed at every impossible task he set for himself.
But…it was not until I saw this video that I realised how utterly driven he was and is:
I understand driven. My father was driven. My ex is still driven. Me? I guess I’ve always been driven too, but not to succeed in the accepted sense. All my life I’ve wanted to be the best person I am capable of being.
I won’t bore you with a whole lot of personal history, or philosophy for that matter, I’ll simply tell you about a Greek concept called ‘Eudaimonia’:
According to Aristotle, every living or human-made thing, including its parts, has a unique or characteristic function or activity that distinguishes it from all other things. The highest good of a thing consists of the good performance of its characteristic function, and the virtue or excellence of a thing consists of whatever traits or qualities enable it to perform that function well.https://www.britannica.com/topic/eudaimonia
Having been brought up as a Catholic, my definition of Eudaimonia has to include ethics, so part of what I strive for is a kind of moral goodness. I don’t lie, I don’t cheat, I’ve never stolen anything in my life, and I try very hard never to hurt anyone, either physically or emotionally. But not doing something is not enough. I also try very hard to ‘right wrongs’ when I can. That’s why Twitter has become the forum where I try to counter false information. And because I have enough to live a modest, contented life, I try to give to the less fortunate, when I can. To be kind. To put others first, because that is my definition of love.
Another part of my Eudaimonia is to develop all the talents I was born with. That’s where my writing comes in. I love being told that someone enjoyed my writing, and I would love to be a best selling author. But…popular and financial success has to be according to my rules. No compromise. For me, writing has always and will always be ‘Plan B’.
I guess a lot of you are thinking that I’m trying to be some kind of latter day Mother Theresa. Believe me, I’m not. My reasons for all of the above are quite selfish, you see one of the things I discovered while doing a philosophy degree was that Eudaimonia can be measured…by the death bed test.
Morbid? Not really. The death bed test goes something like this: a man [or woman!] is dying. As they lie there, waiting to throw off this mortal coil, they think back over their lives, over everything they have ever done. Being Eudaimon is to find that you have no regrets.
That is my Plan A – to have no regrets. Much as I still admire Arnold Schwarzeneger, I wonder if he will have any. He’s accomplished most of what he set out to do, but what price did he have to pay for that success? And how clean are his hands?
I don’t believe Schwarzeneger would take what was not his, but I don’t think he gave much of himself either. Will he be remembered by those he leaves behind as a loving man, or as a self-centred, selfish one?
Someone once said that I was a ‘difficult woman’. That’s true. But I try very hard to be a good one.
I’d love to read your comments, but not about me. I’m simply the counter argument to Schwarzeneger’s view of life, and the meaning of success. Let’s talk instead about life, death and the meaning of the universe.