Staff Writer - Katrin Callender

I once read that what separates a hero from a tragic figure was their position on a wheel of fortune, turned at random by the Fates. The hero starts out at the bottom and rises, while the tragic figure starts out on top and falls. While mythology makes for excellent storytelling and fun history classes, many will claim that the tales coming out of this period are merely stories.  Yet, we tell the stories of any culture because they tell us so much about its people and about ourselves. I have never been superstitious but I see some truth in this particular story. Our circumstances are ever changing, for better or worse. And it behooves us to remember this in the wake of failure, and especially following success.

When we are successful, we may be tempted to gloat, rubbing it in the faces of our peers, enemies and even friends and family. But what does this really accomplish? We remind them of what they may lack, hurting them. We remove from their hearts any admiration they may have had for us regarding the achievement, lessening our own enjoyment of it. We throw away their respect for us, tossing with it our much needed support system. We only hurt ourselves when we are not gracious about our success. Is gloating worth those injuries?

If we acknowledge the fact that no one can be certain how long success and happiness will last, we will know how special every instance of joy is and celebrate it. We will not take time from our celebrations to jeopardize our relationships. We will understand that anyone can experience both success and failure, sometimes as a result of their actions and other times because of something else entirely. Our lives and circumstances may not result from the turning of a wheel but we are not always in control.

As such, we encounter situations and people whose influence on our actions or whose impact on our lives ends in success or failure, regardless of our input. Whether we work hard for what we want and succeed or if we get what we want without much effort, true joy comes from sharing the wealth. We may not literally give of our resources, but our success may have come with a life lesson, share it. Our success makes us happy; share laughter with someone who is not. When that wheel turns, we reap the benefits of having been an example of a gracious victor.