Pointillism is a technique made famous by Seurat in which paintings are composed of tiny specks of color that, when taken all together, become majestic works of art. Can you imagine? Painstakingly pricking the canvas over and over again with a paintbrush for hours at a time as a picture emerges? The amount of work that goes into it is amazing, but even more astonishing is the image the artist has in her head before she even begins her work. She visualizes the finished product in her mind, perhaps in its entirety, maybe as a fuzzy image, but if she wants her creation to be fully realized, she must build it step by step, smudge by smudge.
But this essay is not about art. It's about you. It's about me. It's about every day of our lives and the choices we make that bring us ever closer to greatness or that leave us just as far from our goals as we ever were.
Because greatness is not achieved in one grandiose gesture; it is accomplished in those tiny little building blocks that we stack atop one another every day.
Everyone wants to be famous. Or rich. Or unforgettable. Or brilliant. Everyone wants more than just his or her allotted fifteen minutes of fame. But the thing that not everyone wants to do is work to make it happen, slug through the muck, little by little. And that's why we are a species of wannabes--beings with great potential who just aren't willing to put the work into it that our dreams require.
Thomas Edison said that genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration. It's the sweat that drips down our backs as we toil to bring our genius to life. It's the seconds that pile upon minutes upon hours upon days and months it takes to bring out the greatness within.
I told my students they had a little spark of greatness within them. They do. We all do. But if we don't constantly kindle that spark, it will die, and we will be left with regret for what could have been.
This thought for the day was inspired by my Upward Bound students, by the book Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris, and by my own life.