Hidden Greatness

Posted by admin - 01/06/10 at 01:06 pm

He dragged his left foot behind him as if weighted down by an iron shoe.  The old man shuffled down the aisle.

In his arms, he carried a clipboard full of papers.  He approached the podium, set down his materials, paused, reached inside the pocket of his jacket and pulled out his eyeglasses, a thin pair of wire rims that perched on a huge beak of a nose.

He hurried not at all.  At his own pace, he collected himself, shuffled through his materials and reviewed a few notes.  Finally, he cleared his throat and looked up.  I noticed a large mole under his chin punctuated by a couple of long, gray hairs.  When he smiled, he revealed a set of crooked teeth stained by too much coffee.

“What’s the rage?” I asked myself, not the slightest bit taken by the rave reviews of my peers.  The old man reminded me of an absent professor from a forgotten age, a character that stepped out of an old black and white movie and seemed decades misplaced.

He panned the room twice, methodically, then leaned forward and began a story.  From that moment forward, time stood still.  The man’s deep baritone voice took me on a human journey so engaging that when he grinned one final time to say goodnight, I felt a vast sense of sadness—as if my best friend were offering last goodbyes.

“How could it be over?” I puzzled in disbelief, almost depressed.

The old man ambled down the corridor and out the door—gone.  I sat in my chair and allowed my sorrow to slowly morph into wonder.  For 90 minutes, I witnessed greatness, a story telling giant, with a knack for painting pictures and evoking emotions unlike any other, a true master.  I felt an inner glow as I recalled the hilarious moments when I had to grip arm rests to avoid falling on the floor from laughing so hard.

I chuckled, again and again, unwilling to leave the auditorium.

I looked around and saw many others still glued to their seats.

As I walked through the parking lot to my car, I reflected on how mistakenly my first impression had type cast this man.  I chastised myself for jumping to judgment prematurely.  In self-reflection, an insight flashed through my mind.  Most great people lack perfection.  They don’t fit the made-for-TV mold.

Rather, they possess one driving enthusiasm, one profound passion that makes all faults seem insignificant, all blemishes unimportant—unnoticeable even.

No one cares.  What one thing could you and I develop with such zeal as to render all shortcomings irrelevant?  What makes our juice flow freely, our blood boil with excitement, our muse dance and scream, our contribution worthy for all?  Can we pounce on it, build it and throw it out to the world?

I flashed back on the yellow-toothed man with a hairy mole and started chuckling.

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