The author and contemplative, Thomas Merton once told this story:
“A few years ago a man who was compiling a book on Success wrote and asked me to contribute a statement on how I got to be a success. I replied indignantly that I was not able to consider myself a success in any terms that had a meaning to me. I swore I had spent my life strenuously avoiding success. If it happened that I had once written a best-seller that was a pure accident, due to inattention and naiveté, and I would take very good care never to do the same again.”
“If I had a message to my contemporaries, I said, it was surely this: be anything you like, be madmen, drunks, and bastards of every shape and form, but at all costs avoid one thing: success.”
“I heard no more from him, and I am not aware that my reply was published with the other testimonials.”
Image: Thomas Merton
Source: James Finley, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere: A Search for God Through Awareness of the True Self (Notre Dame, Indiana: Ave Maria Press, 1978) 54. he draws the quote from Thomas Merton, “Learning to Live”, in University on the Heights, ed. W First (New York: Doubleday and Company, 1969) text used for private circulation, 7.