A recent visit to an archaeological museum in Greece confirmed something I've known all my life. We don't need to be an emperor, Olympic athlete or Greek god in order to wear a crown.
At the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki, I wore a crown myself. I admit I didn't actually don a diadem. But I did convince a friend to take a photo of me before a display case featuring an exceptionally crafted piece of gold leaf headwear from antiquity.
These bona fide gold-leaf crowns date back to ancient Macedonia. The treasured personal effects, unearthed from graves dating to the 4th and 5th century B.C., reveal a universal and time-tested truism. The crown need not be reserved for just one. To the contrary, everyone can attain a crown.
How often have we believed that when one wins, everyone else must lose? How frequently have we been patterned to think that there is just one way to excel? It's just not so. There are numerous ways to distinguish ourselves by excellence.
Archaeologists combing Greece's pervasive archaic and classical cemeteries have discovered many perfectly preserved headpieces. They prove that a guy -- or girl -- in the local ancient neighborhood likely owned one. Admittedly, not all were fashioned of gold. But if you wanted a crown, you certainly could wear one back in the early days of Greece.
While today's rarefied monarchs reserve their crowns for official state ceremonies, yesterday's Greeks (or, in this case, pre-Greek Macedonians) donned them for all kinds of outings. Parties, public events, weddings and conventions provided just a few venues for sporting these fantastically awesome laurels. A sign of prosperity, privilege, accomplishment or fashion, these regal looking wreaths enabled members of society to distinguish their heads with dignity, design and drama.
I may never need or even desire a crown. At least for me, a crown might look a bit overdone for dining out or attending a birthday or bat mitzvah. But I appreciate the simple lesson presented by the many and varied ancient crowns displayed in Thessaloniki's archaeological museum.
Every one of us can work toward our own proverbial crown, whether it's physically worn or merely symbolic.
We can earn an academic degree, achieve a health and weight loss goal, master a talent or open a new business. Each one of these feats might merit a personal crown.
We can also claim crowns in spirit as we mature into our own sense of purpose, dignity, integrity or grace. For example, maybe we've fought in a war, overcome an addiction, endured a harrowing illness, or raised a brood of well-adjusted kids.
The great thing about crowns is that everyone can lay claim to one as they arise into their highest sense of self.
It was lots of fun pretending to wear the brilliant, gold-leaf beauty featured at Thessaloniki's Archaeological Museum. But I'm far more passionate about reminding others that they, too, can lay claim to a crown of their own.
The next time you give thought to your life, give consideration to that exceedingly awesome accomplishment, character trait or feat that qualifies you for one of your own. Wear it in happiness and wear it in pride!