In the United States, we want things immediately: fast food, fast turn-around times on our dry-cleaning, green traffic lights on the commute to work, etc. The American work force is filled with power-driven, money-driven, and “success-driven” people (although “success” is a relative term and does not mean the same thing to everyone). We move fast, think fast, and are hungry to climb the corporate ladder as fast as we can. Sometimes we don’t care who we have to step on to reach the top of the ladder.
Twenty years ago when I back-packed through Europe, there were many experiences that made a life-long impression on me. I traveled by myself to France from Nashville (via Philadelphia), and slept in youth hostiles and small hotels for nine weeks. Everything I took with me had to fit in my backpack. I had worked hard the previous year to scrape together the funds for such an excursion. I am so grateful that I did it. My European trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and it helped me become more globally minded and it gave me a clearer perspective of what is really important to me.
One thing I admire about the European culture is the pace. I did not see an urgent drive to live fast and churn, churn, churn with daily stress in order to “succeed.” Success for many Europeans is not the same as American success. I sometimes wish I had stayed in Europe and figured out a way to live there permanently. Although cheese, pasta, heavy cream, alcohol and cigarettes are consumed by many Europeans, they do not have the health issues we do here in America. The only thing I can attribute that to is the European way of life: afternoon siestas where businesses are closed for two hours to eat and rest and two- to three-hour dinners each evening with family and friends. Meals are events. Meals are valued as time to enjoy good food and the company of those you love.
I have worked in the corporate world for over 30 years, and it takes its toll on me at times. I long for the European pace of living. It is a challenge being an artist dressed up like a corporate worker. My soul rejects the corporate environment on a regular basis. Because I did not listen to my inner artist earlier in life and take the steps necessary to free myself from the corporate world, I am, for the moment, stuck in it. I continue to pray and seek the Universe’s wisdom as I put one foot in front of the other on my artist’s path. More important than money or “success” is honoring my artist self. Finding a place where I can honor her and still provide for my family is where I want to be.
Please respond to this post with your thoughts about success and what it means to you. I would love to hear from you!