I wrote this morning about being trivial. Not that being trivial is a bad thing, but just that for many of us, likely most of us, our lives are a series of small actions that we might hope to have affect a small number of people. One of my favorite (wise) people, Papi Julio Varela, responded with the thought, that I was familiar with from his book “Black Hat Wisdom” (read it!), that we all have greatness within us, in fact, that we are all greater than we think we are. Papi responded to my post on my page, and may not have seen that when I posted my writing on WordPress, I entitled it “Is there such a thing as Trivial Greatness?… Maybe”. And I think the two are not contradictory. But Papi’s response has me thinking more about “What exactly is greatness, anyway.” What is it exactly that makes us, as Papi says, “greater than we think we are”?
As is my norm, I began with the dictionary, but found it of little apparent help. Greatness is, of course, “the quality of being great”, but what is great? According to the dictionary, great is “of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average”. Well, that doesn’t help, does it – because it would seem evident that everyone can’t be above average… right? But what if nobody is average… it is my belief that there is no such thing as an “average person”, because each of us is different from the other – not just in any one way – but in so many different ways. We cannot describe a flower just by saying it is yellow. “What yellow… how much yellow, what shape is it, how big is it…”, and on and on. And so much simpler, arguably, is a flower than a person. Where a simple flower defies description – so, clearly must we.
So where, in us, does that greatness lie? I would argue further, that the greatness we are does not in fact lie only inside us, but in – as my writing this morning described – how we effect those around us. Our greatness is manifested daily in each interaction we may have that has that opportunity to change the lives of those in our circle of influence. And yet beyond that, in how those actions may propagate themselves further to effect the actions of others, to perhaps change even more lives. And certainly there is greatness there. So, though we may see each individual action as trivial, collectively they are clearly not. And certainly, given that influence, each of us is great – and more certainly each of us is likely not only greater, but MUCH greater than we may think we are. In every action we take, we have that potential to begin something that can far exceed our wildest imaginings.
So if all those actions we instigate find their foundations in love, imagine what greatness we can find ahead of us. If we be great, let us be great in love…