Greatness


[When I was a nineteen-year-old high school student and budding poet - two years after my diving accident] many factors adversely affected my creativity. My trips in a special bus to school and back home, my courses, and my assignments, though I was spared a lot of writing and was mostly tested orally, all this was time-consuming. More often than not, my obligation to study took priority over my desire to compose poetry.

To tell the truth, I had plenty of free time. That I spent much of it uncreatively showed evidence of frivolousness, laziness, and cowardliness. I usually preferred to take my mind off things, or to daydream, rather than to express myself through poems. The satisfaction I could derive from achieving this expression seldom induced me to try. The deterring elements were the difficulty of trying and the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of my efforts.

A poem - assuming one is concerned about writing beautifully - is indeed no cinch. It requires a poet who is talented, skilled, and determined. My poetic ability was fickle; my grammar and style were faulty; my will was faint. I lacked the courage of my creative desire. This lack was not absolute. Now and then, when I felt compellingly inspired, I resisted my temptation to trifle - which amounted to taking the easy way out - and endeavored to compose a poem. I had to repeat this endeavor, over and over, to grow more capable and confident, less discouraged by the challenge at hand.

I am afraid young individuals similar to the young man I was then are not a rarity. The prospect of success turns them on; effort and the risk of failure turn them off. The contradiction is apparent, and the result predictable: Since effort and the risk of failure are essential for success, the avoidance of them precludes this success. Of course everyone knows this. The trouble is that many refuse largely to accept it. This is proof that knowledge is powerless in itself; it needs a strong will to be effective. Young individuals, who know the rules of success, can be failures inasmuch as they fail to accept these rules. Wisdom includes this acceptance (the exclusion of which is thus foolish). It must be distinguished from knowledge. Wise people are also brave people who put their knowledge into practice and become successful for that reason. The obvious holds good in every way: Life without courage is like a bird without wings; it cannot take off.

Why is it hard to want both the end and the means? Precisely because the means are hard, not to mention the fact that they are hazardous, you might answer. If you are right, then why do some actually thrive on this hardness and hazardousness? The key to this mystery is their attitude: They regard these opposing elements not only as obstacles but also as opportunities for merit and excitement. Just as they were young once, spoon-fed and sheltered from the evils of the world, they eventually outgrew their attachment to easiness and developed a taste for challenge. In conclusion, what characterizes them is their maturity, by contrast with the infantilism of others.

Between these two extremes there is a mediocre compromise, partly mature, partly infantile. It consists in taking charge of one's life while taking the easy way out. Small principles, small realizations, far below one's potential for greatness, they are poor excuses for wisdom and success. Potential, that is the operative word. There can be greatness in apparent smallness and smallness in apparent greatness; the truth resides in the great or small actualization of one's potential, whatever it is.

How does one discover what it is? By making the effort to actualize it in the ever-renewed and multifaceted act of living. This entails that one push oneself hard, at the risk of going too far. Measure is an empty abstraction for anyone who has never exceeded it. Limits should be experienced, not invented. This experience demands a serious and courageous commitment to greatness. Steer clear of frivolousness, laziness, and cowardliness; do not fall prey to them as I did so many times. They are strong temptations that can assume the form of a cunning philosophy that is unique to losers. Beware of this snare. Life is a demanding character test; come death, you will have ample time to rest!

Nostalgic for the old days at the rehabilitation facility when I wrote anyhow about anything, I once conveniently believed in spontaneous writing as a guarantee of genuineness. Fortunately I was foolish yet not a complete fool. After some denial, which involved some nonsense in justification of my foolishness, I admitted sullenly that my sacrosanct pursuit of genuineness was in fact a vile indulgence in idiocy. There is nothing spontaneous about the intelligent conception and intelligible expression of one's true self, which is everything but simple. It is a tissue of desires, feelings, ideas, and memories, caught in a whirl of interactions between the mind and the world. Either one goes to great lengths to elucidate and formulate the truth about oneself, and one hits the bull's-eye, or one talks bullshit - please forgive my language.

Some people shine at off-the-cuff speeches, as though they were so brilliant they could avoid saying idiocies when forced to be spontaneous. Make no mistake; their brilliance is merely one side of the equation. They have spent years polishing their manner of thinking and speaking, while their knowledge waxed through learning. Their spontaneity is studied. It is a product of numerous rehearsals, like the performance of an actor. Nothing great ever comes easily to anyone, including those who are the most gifted among us. Superior luck is not human greatness, only a steppingstone toward it. The stone is given; the stepping is done by the sweat of one's brow and is made of a million steps, uphill. To work one's way up to greatness is comparable to conquering Mount Everest, the highest peak of the Himalayas. It is an outstanding achievement with a sense of pride to match.

Laurent Grenier's writing career spans over twenty years. During this time he has broadened and deepened his worldview, by dint of much reflection and study, and in the end has crafted "A Reason for Living," his best work to date.

Official web site: http://laurentgrenier.com/ARFL.html


MORE RESOURCES:
RELATED ARTICLES
Discover the Writer Hiding Inside You
Has the thought run across you mind that you might want to write a column or two? Maybe you thought about writing your own material for your company newsletter. Maybe someone asked you to share your expertise with others by writing a how-to paper.
Learn to Talk on Paper: The Art of Effective Business Writing
Rudolf Flesch, a specialist in writing skills, ran classes for over thirty years for civil servants, lawyers, bankers and the like, on writing business correspondence. Two tips he stressed over and over again in his classes.
How to Get Free Publicity in In-flight Magazines
If you're targeting an educated, more affluent audience with your message, and your topic is a good fit, in-flight magazines can be one of your best publicity tools.A quick look at the statistics should convince you:--Many of these magazines have high circulations.
Vary Your Writing Style and Win Readers
First drafts are for getting down the ideas. Anna Jacobs calls the first draft the 'dirty draft'.
Writing HI-LO Material (High Interest, Low Ability) for Slow Readers
To write books for readers at an elementary reading level (for either adults or children) you start off exactly the same way as you do any other book: you work out a strong plot and people it with interesting characters.Your primary concerns:To write a story that will seize the interest of the reader immediately (reluctant or emergent readers aren't going to waste time on a story that doesn't look interesting)To try to stick to one idea per sentence.
Revising Your Manuscript: Fourteen Questions to Ask Yourself
1) Can you summarize the story in about a sentence or two?Example:Three daughters try desperately to save their father from his conniving new wife.A cop has to fight a losing battle with the bottle and discover the identity of a serial killer.
That Cute Lil Ol Apostrophe
Have you ever had a student write to tell you they've achieved Grade A's at exams? I have, and one of them was a grade A in English!The apostrophe seems to be the most misunderstood punctuation mark in the English language, and yet its use is really very simple.There's really only one rule: an apostrophe is used to replace one or more missing letters.
Increase Your Chances Of Winning Writing Contests
Winning writing contests can provide several advantages to writers. For starters it's a great way to get your name in print and in front of potential readers.
7 Weapons to Conquer the Giant Procrastination Keeping You from Your Book Dream
Have you been guilty of procrastinating on your book project,lately? Like the author, many writers get hung up with wrongthinking about writing and completing their books. They feel like aloser because they have stopped and started countless of times overthe years.
The Hard Facts About Editing
Whether you're interviewing for a new job, trying to woo a love interest on a first date, selling your work on the Internet, or submitting a query to an editor, you can never make a second first impression. It's true.
How To Build A Successful Freelance Editorial Career
In the current job market, many editorial freelancers have turned to freelance work as a matter of survival. I receive many queries from applicants regarding this part of the market.
The Heart of the Delay: Harnessing The Wisdom of Procrastination (AKA Writers Block)
I am sure that at in some era, at some desk, with some kind of paper (and perhaps some very special ink), some writer has breezed through a lengthy and challenging project from beginning to end with no delays. No one in her household has suffered, she's felt pleased at each step of the process, and her shoulders have never cried out for massage.
Leveraging Your Writing
A frequent conversation I have with my writing clients is how to best utilize their writing to gain more exposure and to create more income. If there is one thing that will accomplish both of these objectives, it's learning how to leverage your writing.
Freelance Writing: A Career From Anywhere
An island in the Mediterranean. A beach in Africa.
Writing Is Not Life-threatening
Some writers complain that writing is arduous work requiring long hours and little pay, which is often true especially for freelance fiction writers. Today, everyone wants to be a writer and with word processors and computers it is easy to put thoughts down, but it is not always effortless to be published unless one self-publishes or uses a vanity press.
Write a Letter, Make a Difference
Today I took the dog for a walk and realized that there is a letter that I must write. Near our house, we walk up a once paved road that is now mostly rock and mud.
Mind Mapping Your Journal Entries
Clustering, also called Mind Mapping, is a great way to savespace and time when you journal. For those of you thataren't familiar with Mind Mapping, you can search in Googleon the words or reading one of Tony Buzan's (the creator)books.
7 Book Publicity Tips for Authors and Small Publishers
The biggest mistake authors make when trying to get free publicity is pitching either themselves or their books.Don't pitch authors! Pitch issues.
How To Write A Newsletter
In order to be successful with a newsletter, specialize in a subject not adequately covered in existing newsletters. A subject which you can give more, or better information on.
The Three Cs of Writing an Excellent all Purpose Headline
Since the headline is the first contact your readers have with your message, it must reach out to them. Promise them a benefit.

Home | Articles Site Map