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Matsubara Naoko: Winter Forest I (1967-1968)

"After the game show ends, the taxman cometh."

There's no Success like Limited Success. Without some limiting factor, Success cannot exist. Contrary to the adolescent outlook our cultural myths insist upon, once Success occurs, "all" will not be and never has been resolved. Maybe motivation requires that we inflate the influence Success will wield. Perhaps we just speak in abbreviating shorthand, but we seem unwilling or unable to speak of Success as bringing limited and limiting results, for anything achieved likely means something else foregone, not in anything like a zero-sum outcome featuring both positives and their counterparts. Even great Success usually introduces externalities, unwanted negatives resulting from the otherwise purely positive result.

We might reasonably survey the downside and choose to pursue our outcome anyway, for every decision involves making trade-offs.
Only in Utopia—which literally translates to Nowhere—does anyone receive the reward without also receiving a bill, some obligation on which to make good. And the striving's never finished after the Successful race has been run, for one thing inevitably leads to another. Successfully building something to discover it will require ongoing maintenance after. Even winning a race, as seemingly as finite an experience as possible to imagine, might leave the runner recovering from the experience, wounded as a direct result of winning their race and achieving Success.

Successes have long noses and tails, each demanding attention and of some kind tribute. It's trite to suggest, but there really are no entirely free lunches. Few accomplishments become a fait accompli requiring no delicate surgeries to set them up or tear down the remainders. Small successes rarely scale, but what they threaten to become big pains in the asses. The first Success in a series probably does not accurately preface the following ones, which will have managed to discover unanticipated complications. It's almost a cartoon of how the Successful executive pines after the simplicities they left behind to start Successfully climbing that corporate ladder. Few would not trade what they achieved for what they left behind to achieve; caveat emptor, indeed.

The question seems so simple on the face of it, but questions involve more than faces. They possess complex and complicating parts, ones easily overlooked but also telling. If one insists upon only looking up, they're likely to miss foreseeing accompanying downsides and, in a moment of passionate enthrallment, might make an agreement destined to bite or burn. Success remains one of the more popular ways of failing, channeling as it always does, and Limiting factors that profoundly influence eventual acceptance. No game show host ever even distantly mentions taxes when giving their contestants those fabulous gifts. After the game show ends, the taxman cometh.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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