By Steve Goodier
A school music teacher received this essay from an eight-year-old
student concerning Johann Sebastian Bach: "He was a GREAT composer. He
had 20 children and had an old spinster in the attic to practice on."
Actually, I don't know the exact number of children he had, but it
seems to be quite a few. And I don't know what he kept in the
attic ... or what he practiced on. But the student was absolutely
right about one thing: Bach was a GREAT composer.
Not all of us can be great at what we do. I try to do some things the
very best I can. But that means I cannot give much attention to some
of the less important tasks.
But what about just being good at WHO WE ARE? Good human beings? Even
being GREAT at who we are?
Author James Michener learned something about greatness on a stormy
night in the South Pacific. His plane was trying desperately to land
on the Tontouta airstrip but could not do so. After several attempts
in the dark of night, his knuckles were white with fear. When they
finally landed safely, Michener went out and walked the length of the
airstrip, looking at the dim outlines of the mountains they had so
narrowly missed. He wrote this:
"And as I stood there in the darkness I caught a glimpse of the
remaining years of my life and I swore an oath when peace came, if I
survived, I would live the rest of my years as if I were a great man.
I did not presume to think that I would be a great man. I have never
thought in those terms, but I could conduct myself as if I were. I
would adhere to my basic principles. I would bear public testimony to
what I believed. I would be a better man. I would help others. I would
truly believe and act as if all men were my brothers. And I would
strive to make whatever world in which I found myself a better place.
In the darkness a magnificent peace settled over me, for I saw that I
could actually attain each of those objectives, and I never looked
Michener says that the very next day he started to draft the book
TALES OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC.* And if it can ever be said that he
became a great man, I suspect it was only because he decided to be a
better man than he was before.
Greatness may never have been your goal. But you and I can be a little
better today than we were yesterday. We can help others a bit more
today than yesterday. We can act more deliberately as if all people
are our sisters and brothers. We can leave the world a better place
tomorrow than we found it today.
And if that is the way to greatness, then we all can head that
direction. One step at a time ... beginning today.
* Michener's quote comes from "OUT OF THE BLUE: Delight Comes Into Our
Lives," by Mark Victor Hansen & Barbara Nichols with Patty Hansen
Publisher@LifeSupportSystem.com is a professional
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