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Chatterbox: It may be great


Ironically, shortly after writing this column, a high school friend of mine was honored by having herself portrayed in a play; she is quite the Martha Stewart type of Latvia, her native country. She said she didn’t know what she had done to be so honored. I told her that, sometimes, greatness is what we achieve while we’re just doing what we love.

No one can accurately describe what greatness is; it’s very relative. Most people don’t think about achieving it, and when anyone does actively pursue it, there are no guarantees. It’s most often the accidental byproduct that will, occasionally, result from dedication.

Here at Chatterbox, we’ve discussed dedication often. We’ve talked about committing ourselves to many things: music, art, medicine, language, teaching, public service or any of a plethora of other passions. The discipline one applies to a cause, interest or talent is a very personal thing.

Whether we are striving to succeed or struggling to survive, whether helping others with our altruistic endeavors or enhancing only our personal life, whether introducing others to our favorite hobby or enjoying it just for ourselves, we are lucky if we can manage achievement while doing what we love. In any case, recognition for it is rare, and usually isn’t the driving force behind us.

Most people don’t achieve great goals on a largely public scale, and most don’t expect to. Such devotees just want to enjoy, hope to advance, or want to spread the joy or knowledge of their favorite pastime. Volunteers just want to help those they serve and find personal fulfillment.

Greatness … well, it happens organically, and people either will or won’t find themselves in its current. We don’t always seek it; we don’t always achieve what is proportionate to what we invest, hope for, plan for, or expect. The dream is personal, and fulfillment is ours to have on our own. Sometimes, we’re surprised with a round of applause and sometimes not; no worries. Greatness isn’t the same as success and it can only be achieved in its observation by others about us.

Even the most successful people don’t always find greatness. Yet, there will be those who either don’t actively pursue it, or who don’t work at what they believe will bring it. Yet, they achieve greatness … and that’s the most wonderful part.

In our world, that which we give to each other, which we share as generously as possible, almost always makes life better for everyone, including us. Many years ago, here at Chatterbox, we talked about the magic that is created by volunteers. This form of selfless dedication to others is vital as well as revered; whether it’s rewarded or not, is irrelevant to its intrinsic value.

Chatterbox once did a column on a man who risked his life in a raging river to save a dog, and personal bravery on behalf of others is priceless despite it being a seemingly reflexive characteristic in most people. Though spontaneous compassion may not always result in our wisest decisions or be personally healthy for us, we do, more often than not, make decisions based on it … possibly more often than we should. It’s just part of what makes us what we are and it has resulted in many great heroes and heroines in life, as well as much great advancement for humanity as well. Sure, it results in a fail for which we may pay a serious cost, but that’s just part of being human. If compassion was always trumped by self-preservation, we probably would have gone extinct long ago.

For most people, most often, serving others or just doing what we love won’t result in fame or perfection, but, as a race, we benefit from passionate work. We gain from accidental discoveries, happy distractions, and from others who consistently hone their skills.

All, except the most outstanding labors of all but the rarest of accomplished people, will either be forgotten over time or never known to begin with. This is what makes what humans do, every day – whether for others, for gain, or just for fun – wonderful. And this is what makes humanity a thing of beauty and a force to be revered as well as reckoned with. So, please, carry on.

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