At first it was curiosity and wondering about a word. Then mental machinations and mindless wanderings took the high road and soon profound curiosity became a fever-pitched research obsession.

It was all about a word, and the word was G-R-E-A-T-N-E-S-S.

A good word GREATNESS. A great word.

Greatness (n.): from the adjective GREAT to describe: A great distance; a great while; a great achievement. Or, used as an adverb to modify an adjective: One of the greats; greatly missed; you are great, I am great, we are all great.

And that’s the question: greatness? Huh?

I’m waiting for the TEDWeWantYouToTalk people to call me because I think I’m on to something. Something great…

Hans Eysenck’s book, Genius: The Natural History of Creativity (‘95) points out that a personality trait called “…psychoticism…chief among those [whose] cognitive features is a tendency to over-inclusiveness, i.e., an inclination not to limit one’s association to relevant ideas, memories, images, etc….” Does that just not describe someone you know? Someone who walks a bit off-kilter with a hitch and a bump? Who sees the other side of the moon on a clear day? The creative person. The bravest person you know, e.g.,

Van Gogh Cassatt Hockney Hopper

Eliot Wilde Twain Thurber

Joplin Bernstein Haydn Handel

Leibovitz Toedtemeier Rauschenberg Siskind

…and perhaps the person whose mirrored reflection you, you and you might already see?

Another title, The Arrival of the Fittest: How The Great Become Great (2009) by noted author Bill Dorris, argues the point that those who obtain greatness are credited with solving a “problem”…in a field of study or perhaps a societal malaise such as Woody Guthrie providing a voice for the outcasts of the Great Depression. Well, maybe. We must then ask the bigger question: What is it all about? Do individuals (or societies) know that the underlying order of life [with] additional hard work…may determine the outcome of purpose and design, great or not, due to choices presented and ultimately made? Then there’s this: Do we find and/or define greatness as a destination or a destiny?

Daughter says her greatness comes from the passion and pleasure that being a fibre artist gives her, with or without affirmation from the professional community she subscribes to. She says, “I believe in me. I just do it.” Greatness comes from acceptance.

Long-time friend Jim:  “Greatness I will leave to others. I am content to do my thing and raise my kids to find greatness in their lives. That will be my legacy.” Greatness comes from reorganizing energy, emotional fulfillment, meaning.

I just know the TEDWeWantYouToTalk people are going to call me and I will be prepared to deliver the goods: the greatness of goods that comes from believing.  In ourselves. Individually. Collectively. You, you and you…and me.

Keep this:

“Some people are born to make great art and others are born to appreciate it. …

It is a kind of talent in itself, to be an audience, whether you are the spectator in the gallery or you are listening to the voice of the world’s greatest soprano.

Not everyone can be the artist.

There have to be those who witness the art, who love and appreciate what they have been privileged to see.”
Ann Patchett, Bel Canto



Which brings me full circle to yesterday’s quote, which continues to ring true in finding courage, and in finding one’s own individual greatness…


“If you know something well, you can always paint it,

but people would be better off buying chicken.”