It’s a Magical World was Bill Watterson’s last cartoon book. And the last cartoon in the book has Calvin and Hobbes trudging through the new snow with their toboggan.
“Everything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand-new!” “A fresh, clean start!” they say.
Then Calvin looks at Hobbes and says, “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…let’s go exploring!”
When was the last time you felt that feeling of wonder and excitement, that a whole new world was open to you? There’s a good discussion going on Dawud Miracle’s post What Does It Mean To Succeed? that touches on this subject. In his comment Stuart Baker says, “This whole orientation of building one ‘success’ and accomplishment upon another can get pretty empty and misguided. And it can feed major stress!”
Amen to that. It goes back to that Joseph Campbell sentiment in my last post, doesn’t it? People want their life in the external world to be aligned with the deepest part of themselves. So when people don’t feel that connection, what stops them from trying to find it? A friend of mine puts it succinctly: “I don’t want to wind up being a bag lady.” They’re afraid that even if they could find what they love in life, following it might mean dropping out, risking alienation and poverty.
That’s why I find the recent Fortune Magazine (August 6, 2007 issue, pages 30 and 34) interview of Jim Buckmaster, CEO of the highly successful Craigslist, so refreshing. When Buckmaster was asked if he had overcome any adversities during his career, he answered, “I kept quitting in the face of adversity until I found something I loved doing, after which point all obstacles became surmountable.” He quit medical school and a few other jobs because, as he says, “If you’re in a job you don’t like, almost anything can seem insurmountable. Conversely, if you are in a job you like, obstacles start to look small. At Craigslist it feels like we’re doing something positive for society.”
And that spirit of contribution is important. When the interviewer asked him wouldn’t have to become more aggressive about growing revenues in the future, he said they don’t worry about financial metrics, they’re just a “pleasant side effect if we manage to do a good job by our users.”
I don’t know about you, but Jim Buckmaster is my idea of a successful person.
For a different way of tapping into that feeling of magic, see Linda Salazar’s recent post, Falling Awake.