Sometimes it seems to me like we spend our lives searching for greatness and grandeur, and do so in things like success and wealth and status amongst our own. Not our peers or our families as such. Just our own. Whoever they are. Or rather whomever we have chosen them to be.
Nowadays we choose our own alligiances and forge our own kin. Not through blood and descent. Not through loyalty or cohesion or a sense of belonging. But rather through opportunity and purpose. Pragmatically, we choose our brothers and sisters in favour of those we were born and raised with. The honour and reverence we once bestowed upon our elders for what they have bestowed and imparted to us, our clan and community through a long life, now befall those whose ideals and methods ressemble our own the most. We make them prove their worth and earn our following – temporary and fickle as it may be – insisting that while we acknowledge that there is still much to learn, we know exactly how that learning should come about and what it should amount to.
In this pursuit for happiness and fulfilment of our destinies we come to trust our own decisions more than the world and those around us. We see weakness and failure and believe we can do better. Or we see perfection and envy it, wanting it for ourselves. It helps us moving forward, not in a quest to strive or grow as much as in fear of falling behind or losing out if we do not push on.
This greatness that we seek… I cannot help but wonder why. If it makes us disregard centuries of what has kept us together, kept us strong and close… if we suddenly no longer value what we were raised on… if we are so caught up in removing ourselves from where we are in favour of something better, convinced it must be out there, waiting for those who proactively reach for it… adamant that there is glory in more and defeat in enough… then are we really striving, as we think we are, for ambition and prosperity?
Or are we simply runnin away from what is here and now? Are we rejecting what we have inherited and been given, so certain it is mediocre at best?
Once upon a time, immortality was being remembered in the hearts, minds and stories of generations to come. Now it is being idolised while we’re still here to enjoy it. So busy and certain of our own righteousness are we that we cannot even wait for natural progression to cast its vote over us. We have to make sure we know in advance what will be etched on our headstones.
Perhaps that is why we are so keen to choose those who surround us. After all, they will be an expression of our legacies. They will be the ones to carve the words we’ve spelled out for them. We have to trust them to. So, we choose uncompromisingly rather than carefully. Too pragmatically, too purpose-filled, and too intent on forcing the vote, even when we don’t get one. Perhaps too that is why the prospect of being alone at the end terrifies us so much? Selfish, really… isn’t it? to want there to be someone around to be sad we’re gone. To grieve and feel loss because of us. But we do. Without anyone around who will carve our words? Who will keep our legacy alive when we’re not here to fan the embers anymore? Who will witness it while we’re still here, struggling to shape this greatness of ours… if we are alone?
Mediocrity is forgettable. And immortality is fickle at best, and entirely untrustworthy in the hands of others at worst. So, we have no other choice but to bet on greatness and grandiosity to make us more than we are. More than mere mortals. Make us an ideal for others to follow or envy and so keep us alive and validated, if nothing else… then at least amongst our chosen.
Our testimony to them will be to urge in them the compulsion to do as we have done… or risk oblivion and mediocrity themselves. We teach them that we must overcome ourselves. That our existance is only truly a reality when we get others to think so too… and preferably to emulate it if possible. And how misguided is that…?
In truth it is our frailties that make us human, and if we had the courage it is those we should show to those who share our days, our lives, our meals and our favour. Show them we are not to be envied or imitated. Not to be worshipped or idolised. Show them that living in an honest and openhearted now is more important than spinning the stories tomorrow will tell of us. If we had the courage we would not need to deselect some in order to fit in others.
If we had the courage to be alive for today – whatever that might mean and require us to face – then we would not live in such fear of tomorrow. Not live in such fear of losing out or not being noticed. And whatever else greatness may be, it would not be a matter of followers or chosen alliances. Assessment of what is good and valid in life then would be ours to inspire and encourage, not to determine or force. In ourselves or others.
Living such a life… now that is what I would consider greatness.