When I go pick up a coffee and bacon egg & cheese croissant on my way to work, I stop at the same deli. Each day, my deli guy has a philosophical question taped to the cash register.
Question 3: “Who was the greatest person that ever lived?”
I thought about it while he made my breakfast. I thought about famous people, heroic people, politicians and kings, generals and spiritual leaders. In the end, I told my Deli Guy that my dad was the greatest person who ever lived.
He followed his heart and worked his dream job as a news cameraman in NYC for thirty years. He’s artistic, musical and can read a 300-page book in two hours. He’s open-minded and engages new philosophy and technical details with equal enthusiasm. He can be a little paranoid when it comes to security and preparation — he always reads instruction manuals cover-to-cover — but he isn’t overbearing. In fact, he laughs easily. He’s never mean-spirited with his jokes.
He married a woman he’s still madly in love with (our mom). He gives good advice. He reads Zen and the Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance once a year, and gets new meaning out of it each time. There’s nothing Electra about this. My dad’s a really neat guy.
He did have a rotten temper when we were children; but trying to wrangle three brilliant kids who made bad choices in clever ways would drive anyone up the wall.
I couldn’t choose a big famous world-shaking hero because I don’t know them. We cover up the flaws of history’s heroes. Maybe da Vinci was a jerk.
What do you think constitutes Greatness? Can an individual be Great without being a prominent public figure?