Success and Plan B

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.

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.


About acflory

I am the kind of person who always has to know why things are the way they are so my interests range from genetics and biology to politics and what makes people tick. For fun I play online mmorpgs, read, listen to a music, dance when I get the chance and landscape my rather large block. Work is writing. When a story I am working on is going well I'm on cloud nine. On bad days I go out and dig big holes... View all posts by acflory

30 responses to “Success and Plan B

  • MELewis

    Thanks for reminding me about Aristotle’s definition of happiness. Fulfilling all of our functions — physical, social and intellectual — is what I consider the ideal approach to life. I am anything but driven, yet I realize even according to Arnold’s definition I have achieved a certain degree of success: I like what I do for a living (most days!). Yet I feel like my whole life has been a ‘plan B’. Not being driven to achieve according to other people’s standards frees you to do what feels right for you. I am also a difficult person, but one who lives according to a strong set of principles (although my moral compass is looser, I think, than yours!). I try to give back as much as I take. No regrets. That’s success, at least for me. πŸ€—

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      High Five, Mel. πŸ™‚ I’ve felt as if my whole life has been Plan B as well, although in a certain way, if we’re doing what we believe we should, isn’t that a kind of Plan A?
      Definitely no regrets. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  • Remembering Lives

    When I was a child I nearly lost my leg to suspected cancer. I always bore that in mind when living my life. I think it is probably one of the reasons I more or less completed my bucket list relatively young. I feel the few things left on my list, is to see Antartica, have a successful writing career. Oh yes I know this is out of left field but I would love to complete my legal studies and either become a lawyer or a paralegal.

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      Damn. Carpe Diem at such a young age is rough. The only silver lining is that you’ve made the most of every moment. I think I sleep walked through my teens. Just wanted to get away from the all girl, Catholic college my parents sent me to. It was a good school academically but…god I hated it. Life seemed to begin at uni. πŸ™‚
      Is there any reason you can’t complete your legal studies? A friend of mine just texted me yesterday that she’s finally decided to go for Microsoft accreditation. Never too late to take the plunge. πŸ™‚


  • CarolCooks2

    Well, I couldn’t be described as shy and retiring and nor would I want to…Breath of fresh air as oft been a description of me…Whimsical is another one…Also opinionated has been mentioned and who among us suffers fools gladly not me…However, I do think that women often feel they have more to prove as how something is perceived is vastly different depending on your gender…Boys will be boys and a girl is a slapper. I ‘ll stop now while I am ahead…sigh xx

    Liked by 1 person


    Fabulous, thought-proving-ful post. Congratulations on being called a difficult woman… but I’m with Dawn, it’s a term too often used as part of a mansplaining deflective toolkit. Which is a nice segue to my idea of success, which is being comfortable and confident to live by your own lights, and involves being able to live & learn and learn & live without too much angst, thereby making regrets redundant.

    Liked by 1 person

  • D. Wallace Peach

    What a lovely personal post, Andrea. Difficult? You? No way. :-D. I refer to/use the “death bed” test all the time. And wow is it ever effective in helping prioritize my choices and options. That’s why I don’t clean my house. Lol. It’s also the reason why at some point I will stop writing and blogging. The older I get, the more important it is to reevaluate how I spend my time, and there’s no time to waste. Hugs ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    • acflory

      You too? lmao. I, um, re-evaluated housework some time ago as well. πŸ˜€
      Don’t re-evaluate the writing and blogging too soon though, okay? While you have something to say, keep saying it. -hugs-

      Liked by 1 person

  • TermiteWriter

    I’m neither a philosophy or a psychology major but my books deal a lot with the ideas you mention above. Your comment about looking back on your life and being able to say you have no regrets – I don’t think that’s possible. Everybody regrets something they’ve done in their life, but it becomes too late to make reparations. Take my MC, Robbin Nikalishin, in The Man Who Found Birds among the Stars. Because of the psychological complexities of his character, he doesn’t treat his mother very well. When he tinally comes to terms with the problem, she’s dead, and it almost destroys him. He’ll regret what happened for the rest of his life, but he manages to overcome the trauma. He decides he can only be the best he can be from that point on, secretly dedicating everything good that he accomplishes to his mother. He never once in his whole life talks to anyone about how he failed her – it’s a secret he has to live with, and to cope with in his own way. Anyone who wants to know more needs to read the series, especially the first four volumes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Audrey Driscoll

      I’ve read the series, and agree that one can’t always make direct amends. But we can examine our regrets and use them to make better choices that may lead to indirect amends.

      Liked by 2 people

    • acflory

      You’re absolutely right. Lorinda. I guess dying with no regrets is a goal. How close we approach it depends on what we believe and how we’re able to live. Your character becomes the person he wants to be so at the end of his life there would be less to regret than if he had not made the change within himself at all.
      I guess ‘no regrets’ is really just another way of defining what a ‘good’ life might look like.
      And now you’ve intrigued me. I think I may have to meet your Mr Nikalishin. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  • Remembering Lives

    Don’t worry I am another difficult woman with principles. Join the club.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Mick Canning

    Lots of people will think you difficult if you try to do the right thing all the time!

    Liked by 2 people

  • DawnGillDesigns

    there is no shame in being a difficult woman.
    No-one ever calls a man ‘difficult’ or indeed ‘bossy’ *
    I think it’s a term reserved to keep women feeling like they are the weaker sex, and therefore part of the *raises fist* continual patriarchal oppression πŸ˜‰

    *The don’t often call women it when they are within my hearing either, coz they get ripped a new one πŸ˜€

    Liked by 2 people

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