Achieving Greatness

There are so many great people in this world,

So many who have made it.

Like great war generals and presidents,

public heroes celebrated throughout the years.

I wonder, did they want to be great?

Did their hard work and persistence pay off?

Because there are so many people who aren’t remembered,

so many Marys and Davids and Betty Lous

Who were here like all of us are here,

But did not make it.

Did they want to be great?

Did their hard work and persistence just not pay off?

Everyone thinks they’re so special, and that they’ll make it someday.

But the truth is, everyone doesn’t make it.

Everyone isn’t successful.

If everyone made a name for themselves,

If everyone was remembered,

All of our history textbooks would be quite thicker.

So who am I to say that I will be remembered?

Who am I to say whether I’ll make it or not?

Because chances are, I will end up being like all of the untold millions

Who lived, achieved greatness, but not enough to be noticed, and died.

Who can say if I’ll be remembered at all?

Sometimes I think that there are just too many people in the world.


Story Fragment #6

His spelling and handwriting were atrocious. His test scores were so low it seemed he was going out of his way to get the answers wrong. But somehow I knew this kid was different. He had this way of knowing when things were going to happen. Whenever he said that there was a storm coming, it came. He always knew the price of movie tickets without even asking. Yeah, weird right?

One time he predicted that Mrs. Paige would have a baby girl, and the next week Mrs. Paige announced that she was pregnant. And sure enough, 9 months later a healthy baby girl was born. They named her Berta after him. His name was Herbert. Yes, Herbert was a slightly odd boy. I should know, I’m his English teacher. One day after handing Herbert his report card with a big “F” on it, as usual, he froze. Suddenly, he fell to the floor and burst into tears. Under his breath, I could hear him mumbling about warning everyone.

“Herbert, whatever is the matter?”

I asked, slightly scared. Whenever Herbert cried it meant that something really terrible was about to happen. As suddenly as he started, Herbert stopped crying and stood up.

“We need to get out of here. Now!”

He yelled, pushing and yelling at everyone to get out of the 8th-grade classroom. I noticed that he left his report card on the table. When we got outside of the building, confused but trusting Herbert’s instincts, he rushed back in to warn the others. Then it started. A gunshot rang out. Students screamed. Alarms sounded, and another gunshot rang out. People began streaming out of the school in panic. I lead my students to a safe place. That day Herbert saved my life.

There were four victims of the shooting.

Herbert was one of them.

At the memorial service held at the school a few days later, I stated, “His spelling and handwriting were atrocious. His test scores were so low it seemed he was going out of his way to get the answers wrong. But somehow I knew Herbert was different.”

Over a course of a week, Patrick and Rose began to develop a friendship. One day, Rose saw Patrick as she was heading out of the school building after her last class.

“Hey Patrick!”

She shouted and waved. Patrick waved, and hurried over.

“Hi Rose. How’s it going?”

“Good,” Rose answered. “I was just going to walk home.”

“Would you mind if I walked with you?”

Patrick asked shyly. Rose smiled. “Sure.”

As they were walking to her house, Rose brought up the topic of Beauty in their discussion.

“I think that one of my favorite kinds of Beauty is when I finally understand something.”

Rose said to Patrick as she was tiptoeing along the curb with her arms out to her sides as though she were tight-roping. She jumped down.

“Well, you’re understanding a little more and more of Truth.”


Rose asked quizzically.

“Yeah, Truth. It’s the most valuable thing.”

Rose listened quietly.

“Understanding is discovering and comprehending Truth. So technically, you find beauty in truth. In understanding.”

“Hmm. I see your point there.”

Rose murmured. She walked along, letting her scarf fly behind her instead of wrapping it around her neck like she was supposed to. Her neck was getting colder, but she didn’t care. It was one of those bleak, leaves-blowing-along-the-sidewalk kind of cold autumn days. Rose squinted her eyes. Patrick had his hands in his pockets. They walked along.

“Why do you like Truth so much?

Rose asked. Patrick looked at her.

“Why do you like Beauty so much?”

“Well, I don’t think that beauty is the purpose of life. Because if it was, that would be too simple. Life is not simple, even though it is very fleeting.”

“Hmmm. I see your point there.”

Patrick replied.

“But you still didn’t answer my question.”

He interjected.

“I like beauty because it gives me pleasure, and it makes me think really deeply, and I like thinking deep. It also helps me to appreciate the world.”

Rose said.

“But I think there’s more to my answer than just that. It’s just that I can’t think of a longer one. Or a more clever-sounding one.”

“It doesn’t have to sound clever.”

Patrick advised thoughtfully.

“But it would sound really cool if it did.”

Two days later as Rose was at her locker once more, the NLG waved at her again. She waved back. After two weeks, their small encounters became more than simply waving. One day after the NLG waved at her, he walked towards her and stuck out his hand.

“Hey, I’m Patrick.”

“I’m Rose.”

Rose replied, shaking his hand. His hands were abnormally large. He looked up and began studying her face. She felt weird watching him watch her, so she decided to stare back at him. Like it was a staring contest. Patrick’s features were somehow familiar as though she had seen his face her whole life. Except for his eyes. They were strikingly blue and hard to look away from, yet at the same time hard to look at. After a few seconds of their heated staring contest, Patrick seemed to come alive again.

“Well, it was nice meeting you, Rose.”

He had said it in such a punctual way and walked away so… elegantly Rose couldn’t help but laugh. Patrick looked back and smiled, then resumed walking. So, his name was Patrick. Now she could call him something other than NLG. Rose watched him walk away. Suddenly she felt her cheeks getting hot. She had just stared at a boy for like, twenty seconds straight. What had she been thinking? Rose combed her hand through her hair. Now that she thought about it, those twenty seconds were the weirdest of her life. But at the time it felt completely normal even though she knew that it probably shouldn’t have felt normal. Slightly confused and embarrassed, Rose made her way to her class.


The next day Patrick caught up to her as Rose was walking in the hallway.

“Hi again.”

She said, slowing a little so he could match her pace.

His electric blue eyes looked rather thoughtful, almost as though he was trying to comprehend the universe. Rose knew that look well and could tell that he was deep in thought. After a moment, he spoke:

“Oh wait, did I ever tell you about the parachute thing?”

“Umm…. I don’t think so.” Rose replied, tapping her chin.

You’ve never actually told me anything before, she thought silently.

“Okay, so you know when you’re skydiving? The moment you jump off the plane, you have the rest of your life to open the parachute.”

Rose’s mind immediately went to picturing someone jumping off the plane then pulling the parachute, but Patrick’s statement didn’t make sense. She shook her head slightly.

“Wait, what?”

“No, think about it.”

Patrick stopped walking and faced her.

“The moment you jump off the airplane…”

He made a jumping movement.

“You have the rest of your life to pu—“


Rose exclaimed in a half gasp as she stared into the distance. She understood.

“Isn’t that jut a… a beautiful notion?”

Patrick breathed.

Rose’s mind immediately began tingling, like it did every time she thought about beauty. She felt her tongue forming the words to tell him about true beauty – the real definition, the fact that beauty wasn’t just recognizing something pretty – but before she was able to open her mouth to explain to him, she decided not to. She had a feeling that he didn’t need an explanation of what beauty meant.

Rose walked down the school hallway. She felt oddly out of place. Not surprisingly, she nearly always felt out of place. At this particular moment, she was envisioning a scene in front of her.

She would be just staring at something and then bump into someone and her books would flop all over the place. As she would be frantically mumbling and picking her books back up again, the person who she bumped into would turn out to be some…

Rose itched her scalp. She couldn’t decide if the guy would be a really attractive teenage boy or some “nerd” with round Harry Potter glasses who would shyly hand her her book then walk away. Rose let her hand fall to her side. She would probably choose the “nerd” dude. Well, she felt rude actually calling someone a “nerd,” because it was always used with a negative connotation. But she couldn’t think of any other word which would instill the same mental picture, so she decided upon calling a nice “nerdy”-y person who isn’t really nerdy a… nice guy? No, it needed to be some sort of title. A … NLG. Yeah, a Nerd-y Looking Guy.


Yes, she would choose the scene where when she bumped into a dude, it would turn out to be an NLG and not a popular nice-looking guy. Suddenly Rose was aware of all of the people that were walking in the hallway with her. Cautiously she carried on walking. Someone bumped into her and she almost fell but caught herself just in time. Sharply turning, she glanced back at the person who had bumped into her. Could it be…? Another guy in the crowd whirled around. “Sorry” he mumbled. Then he smiled and waved. Rose smiled and waved back.

Nope, it was no hottie, nor was he an NLG. He was simply one of those kids that she would wave to whenever she saw them in the hallway. Rose recognized his face, but she never knew his name. Just one of those wave-in-the-hallway kind of connections. By the time lunch break was over, Rose had stopped thinking about the encounter.