I know it sounds old – to say that no one understand you; and yet that is exactly how I feel. Misunderstood, unwanted except for a laugh, under-appreciated, underrated; all in all, useless. Of course, in order to fill the void, I read, I study, I learn; to make myself, in my own eyes, useful. I need to prove that I can measure up to others, that I have not only the potential to become someone great, but also the will to make that potential a reality by actually succeeding. Edith Hamilton, one of my favorite writers of all time, once wrote that “when the world is storm driven and the bad that happens and the worse that threatens are so urgent, as to blot out anything else from view; then we need to seek the fortresses of the spirit that men have built through the ages” (The Greek Way, 10). Due to this piece of wisdom, I have studied the ancients, becoming quite acquainted with Greek philosophy and Roman Stoicism. I believe the Ancient Greeks taught us how to discover, while the Romans showed us how to remain curious for the world. Let’s put a thumbtack on that, for a moment.
In another movie, Alexander (2004), I heard that “history remembers men of vision,” spoken by an elderly Ptolemy I, ex-general of the Macedonian king. Another man I respect, Larry Smith, said on a TED talk, and I paraphrase, that men of passion (I say passion and vision are two sides of the same coin) are weird, and that we do not want to be weird, therefore we do not have passion; strange, really, but true. In this for-the-moment world of ours, individuals who have a goal beyond the hour or the day in which they are currently living are seen as weird, eccentric, over-driven, or flat-out crazy. Passion is a curse, a trait that only few have, viewed as a secret being hoarded by those few lucky souls who should be giving it up for the rest of the world – but the world does not want it, figure that one out. Very rarely do people realize that vision, passion, or drive, are traits cultivated by years of yearning for something more, wishing to be someone better, and working hard at achieving your goals. At a later time, as these connections fluttered in the ethereal space of my mind, I saw a Spanish commercial that accentuated the traits, or rather, the awards obtained thanks to those traits, that Spain has as a whole – Spain has suffered over world recession more than most other countries, and the commercial was trying to cheer people up. Spaniards were mostly upset, ironically, because the commercial felt to them as if their government was trying to distract them from the current crisis by pointing out the little things that made them great. I didn’t know why at the time, but I was not in agreement with their assessment. It just felt wrong to judge something so endearing in such a harsh way.
Interestingly enough a job that I had from 2007 to 2012 taught me that a company’s customer service was like a pillar to an ancient Greek temple. I have used the allegory many times, but never in the way in which it was about to work. Thinking about all of these facts (and thoughts do come to me randomly as vividly as they did yesterday or ten years ago) I began to put things together, much like puzzle pieces that fit together once the matching borders were found within the overall picture. I began to think, as I attempted to answer the question posed at the beginning of this writing exercise, in my head. Those Tuskegee airmen, all part of an all-black squadron, would at some point have become great; they were not yet, not during their time, and they do not know they will be. That struck me. Many scientists believe that life begun on this planet by the sudden strike of lightning upon the water-soup containing all necessary elements of life. Similarly, the answer to my question was born in that moment. Perhaps it was a mix of everything I have ever read, maybe just the accumulation of every little thing I have ever learned, or maybe it was just blind luck, but all of the sudden it hit home, the primordial soup of my mind become something a coherent thought:
It is not at about if what we do and how we do it matters, it is about the fact that what we do and how we do it matters most, because we are pillars in which the rest of humanity rests. Pillars in which the temple of culture and knowledge are built. We are the caryatids of this civilization, the muses of modern thought.