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Jan 19, 2016

Books and the Pursuit Greatness

I've been reading a lot.

Well, actually listening a lot.  

Overdrive's library of e-audiobooks is my favorite technological discovery.  I've listened to an embarrassing number of books on Overdrive during my commutes and the brainless data entry part of my job.  To the point where I am having a hard time getting into the several hardbound books awaiting my attention on my nightstand and end tables.  (Side note: Why must I always have at least three books going at once?  It's a thing with me.  Counseling may be in order.)  

Through this period of winter reading binges, I've come to a few realizations.

Neil Gaiman is my spirit animal.  

I wish I had a British accent.

Stephen King's books, as well as his book recommendations, are unwaveringly amazing and never fail me.

It is still my favorite book of all time - the characters, story development, nostalgia, scares and weirdness speak to my soul.  But American Gods now runs a very very close second.  

I'm actually starting to enjoy biographies.  This must be a symptom of me "being in my 40's".  Great.

Another symptom of me "being in my 40's" is a heightened appreciation of and attraction to authenticity in all its forms.  I dig people brave enough to bare their souls, to be true to who God made them to be, with all their pecadillos sticking out and their freak flags flying through the waves of mainstream.

That's real.  That's life affirming.  That's greatness.

I'm tired of trying to live up to the image of my 41 year old self that my 16 year old self (who evidently had a dangerously inflated sense of reality) dreamed up.  This doesn't mean that I have given up.  I still have goals and dreams and continue to strive for them.  But I'm not a famous singer or an acclaimed writer living the fame and fortune life.  I haven't unlocked the secrets of the universe.  I'm not and never will be a size 2 or somehow miraculously continue to grow to achieve my ideal height of 5'8".  And I have not stumbled across a magic item/substance that will gift me telepathy or the ability to fly.

To my 16 year old self I say there is nothing wrong with striving for greatness.  We all should hold ourselves to a high standard and push ourselves to try harder.  But my youthful dreams of worldly greatness have been replaced by internal, soul and God-honoring greatness.

Authentic greatness.

I have moments of authentic greatness.  Like when I light up my husband's eyes.  Or when I fuel my kids' imaginations or catch glimpses of goodness in their souls.  Sometimes I write something that sparks someone.  Sometimes I sing something that moves someone.  I always listen to a friend.  And sometimes I hold my tongue against all urges to yell (this is a significant achievement of greatness for me).

When I was 16 years old I thought greatness was a sustainable degree of being that, once achieved, would remain and life would sail smoothly along.  But greatness is actually much smaller, more precise moments weaved throughout someone's life.  Good decisions made. Selfless actions given.  Using the gifts God has given only to you to make changes in the world, in one life or many, that only you can make.

This kind of greatness is internal.  It's harder and smaller in scope than you anticipate.  It's clumsy and ungraceful.  It's soul filling.

That's what makes it authentic.  

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