In praise of small victories

It’s a running joke that I can’t manage anything in book form that doesn’t have pictures.  For a while, the only two novels I managed to get through after my son’s birth were Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale, and Yasunari Kawabata’s Sound of the Mountain.  And Sound of the Mountain took me a whole year to read.

It’s funny, in both a laughable and ridiculous way, that reading – active reading – and actual thinking (thinking!) is now part of my job – especially since I consider it a major accomplishment to sit down and finish a book.  That said, I’m happy to announce that I’m back to reading books, real books, and the first book that I’ve had the privilege of reading (that isn’t a sex manual, or Japanese pulp) is Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: the Story of Success.

A lot of times success is attributed to the superstars and brands that we all recognize.  And Gladwell dissects this.  But the other thing that he does, is scale down success, and praise small victories – something that we can all appreciate.  For myself, I’m always surprised when any modicum of accomplishment shows itself in my home.  However, when the sofa’s clear of books, my son’s socks match, the reviews are filed, the interview done; when I manage to remember to check pockets before doing the laundry so that I’m not opening up a washer to an explosion of leaves and sticks and other sundry once-live items; and I manage to get a hot, homecooked meal onto the table for dinner, that’s when I know that success lurks even here.

Here’s a link to more of my thoughts on success and my review of Outliers.  My return to prose is brought to you in part, by Playboy.com.

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