The other day I was reminded of a story told by one of my yoga teachers, Rodney Yee. He told the story of John Goodenough, a physicist who, in 1980 and at the age of 57, invented the brain inside the lithium battery that powers the smart phones and tablets of today. Goodenough is now 93 years old and his invention, the cobalt oxide cathode within the lithium battery, has yet to find an inventor to improve upon the technology. Yet, despite the scale of his achievement, he is not finished. He visits his office in Austin, TX everyday, working to advance the nervous system inside the lithium battery to, one day, drive the battery powered automobile to be more cost effective than the combustible engine.
Too often we look at our lives as incomplete because we aren’t ‘there’ yet – we haven’t reached our target weight goal, haven’t reached our desired salary level, haven’t traveled somewhere we want to be, haven’t found a soul mate or haven’t taken the plunge to pursue what drives us. The last one for me, and I think for most people, is the ultimate kicker. If you haven’t started the path of pursuing that which you are most passionate about, that which you were set on this planet for, when will you? And if you happen to be one who has taken that plunge, what is holding you back?
Studying with my young son about well-known musicians and artists throughout history, it is amazing to find how many achieved celebrated status after death. Achieving recognition and success is a great by product, but that should not be the end goal. The goal is to create, to do the work, every day. That is where the true glory and success lies. As seen with Goodenough, even success does not bring an end or relief, it is through the every day tinkering – with your art, with your breath, with your body, with your trade – that you will cultivate awareness and great skill. And that journey itself, will be the greatest success of all.