What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think. This rule, equally arduous in actual and in intellectual life, may serve for the whole distinction between greatness and meanness. It is the harder, because you will always find those who think they know what is your duty better than you know I. - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"...the whole distinction between greatness and meanness." The greatest among us have incredible gifts and talents, but they are also amazing people when no one is watching. Very few people achieve greatness in today's world. It is easy to trade your soul one piece at a time for immediate gratification. Hollow shells of ourselves desperately searching for something to fill the void; we turn to the addiction du jour. We idolize the rich and famous thinking we will finally find that elusive something if we can just be like them. We don't notice they are often even more lost than we are. It is easy to turn bitter and mean when we lose ourselves. We don't love ourselves and we are tired of changing for everyone else. Rage bubbles up and erupts at everyone who knows our flaws best - our lovers, our children, our inferiors. It doesn't seem to cost anything to yell at the store clerk or smack a noisy child or swear at co-workers. It's even easier to blame them for causing our behavior. We don't know the damage we do them and ourselves. The greatest among us don't want fame or fortune. They are quietly saving the world behind the scenes. It doesn't matter who is watching or what the job pays or what is in it for them. They are doing whatever needs to be done for anyone that needs help just because it needs to be done. You will know if you have met greatness because you feel better when they are near. They give you energy until you can face the world again. They help you before you even know you need help. They love you for the person you are, but inspire you to be even more. They fight evil with no fear for themselves. When faced with the hardest challenges, they turn them into life lessons for the rest of us. If we are lucky, we will have one or two of these amazing teachers touch our lives. The rest of us will turn to the historical teachers. Either way allows to us achieve greatness in ourselves and lead others on the path to enlightenment.