But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes.
We all want to be great. The issue is we equate greatness by external standards, disconnected from ourselves and our true meaning. We may tell ourselves, "I am great because I am top of my class. I am great because I make six figures. I am great because I am beautiful." This is greatness by ordinary standards, which by its nature is not greatness at all.
Recreate yourself to become great.
What is greatness?
Mozart, De Vinci, Shakespeare? Newton, Einstein? Socrates, Plato, Aristotle? What do these greatness beings all have in common? What did they do differently? How do they think?
Why do we want greatness?
We want greatness because it brings us outside our human existence and elevates us. Some would say it is the closest thing to divinity we can experience. We communicate the desire for greatness in our expression of divine figures throughout history.
Achilles, greek war hero, Athena, greek goddess of intelligence and skill, warfare, battle strategy, handicrafts, and wisdom, and Fortuna, the roman goddess of fortune, are all examples of man's obsession with greatness. Greek and Roman gods and goddesses of old have been replaced with modern day super heroes, such as Batman, Spiderman, Wolverine and the like. This awe with godlike figures is a longing for what we truly desire.
It is not that we want to be godlike; we want to be free, unrestricted. We want to elevate ourselves and be great but we may not believe we can do this. We all can become great. Greatness comes from the authentic self we have suppressed and forgotten about.
What prevents us from becoming great?
One thing that prevents us from becoming great is we are scared of public opinion. To be great, we must be fearless and fearless of what others think. There is a conflict here. We want to belong. We look to others for acceptance and approval. We do not want to be rejected and all alone. With this, we pay a price.
We may hide our true self. We may forget ourselves and just become a part of a group.
As philosopher, mathematician Bertrand Russell stated in the The Conquest of Happiness, "man may find himself throughout his whole life practically compelled to conceal his real tastes and convictions from most of the people that he meets in the course of his day."
Bertrand Russell also stated:
"Fear of public opinion, like every other form of fear, is oppressive and stunts growth. It is difficult to achieve any kind of greatness while a fear of this kind remains strong, and it is impossible to acquire that freedom of spirit in which true happiness consists, for it is essential to happiness that our way of living should spring from our own deep impulses and not from the accidental tastes and desires of those who happen to be our neighbors, or even our relations".
To be truly great, we must take the risk of being isolated, cast out and criticized. We must embrace ourselves, our talents, thoughts, choices fully. We must become ourselves and live in honesty.
Another thing that prevents us from becoming great is our job and our possessions. We must go to work daily, to a job that is "okay" by our standards. We accept our place in life and tell ourselves our job is like any other job, with pluses and minuses. Some of us go home and must mow our lawns or hire someone to do this. Some of us must replace expensive parts in our car. We must maintain our luxuries, becoming a prisoner to these material possessions. Some spend half their free time doing this. Those of us who do this have chosen to have rather than to be. We have suppressed ourselves and our greatness.
If we were to survive with much less, we could do what we truly want and love. That is greatness. In the face of society, we will say, "I am going to be me. Do things may way regardless whether you accept it or not. I am going to be great."
We do what we love, say what we think and live to our fullest.
Do you think Galileo cared that ordinary people believed him foolish. It was quite apparent the earth was round rather than flat but people ostracized him for this. Socrates, one of the greatest thinkers of all time and creator of the Socratic Method, was killed for challenging the status quo. Joan of Arc, great heroin and leader of the french army, was captured, falsely accused of heresy and set on fire.
Society fears greatness, rejects authenticity, suppresses their members and themselves, and destroys humanity. Do you think Galileo, Joan of Arc, Socrates cared what others thought? They, instead, valued greatness above all else.
While the consequence of being authentic and great will not likely lead to exile or death in a civilized society, it may lead to rejection. We must ask ourselves, "is being authentic and great worth this rejection? Is being great worth having less material objects and prestige?" Once we answer "yes" to these questions only then can we become great.
You have a choice. Realize it. Become what you already are, great.