Saturday, 17 January 2015

Week 3: The Pursuit of Greatness

I'm a movie fan and I just watched 12 Years a Slave. I couldn't bring myself to actually go to the movies to see it. I figured it would get messy and I would want to be alone when that happened. As predicted my eyes are still sore and the skin on my cheeks feels tight from the tears.

Once it was over, while I was still in the post movie... I want to say glow, but this was more of shock I think, I watched a few actor's interviews on YouTube. I wanted to know if there was some insight into how they (particularly those who had the task of doing and saying some rather horrific things) handled that. How were they able to get through it. I did read that in one scene Michael Fassbender actually passed out - not sure if that's true.

The actors were all very professional, and said the usual 'I tried to blah blah blah when portraying my character blah blah' answers.  Not sure why I needed to know, I guess I wanted to see if they were affected by the story as much as I was.  (I'm pretty sure that unless they were sociopaths they would have been in some small way).

Anyway, it was while watching Fassbender's interview that the inspiration for this blog post came because something he said struck a chord with me. (And it had nothing to do with the original reason for watching the interview - lol).  He said he read the script and told Steve McQueen that he wanted to be a part of it. Even if it were just a small role with a 1-2 day shoot, he didn't care. Obviously he would prefer the lead role he got, but he just wanted to be a part of something important.

That got me thinking. Isn't that something that a lot of people strive for? To be part of something important. To feel like they made a contribution and rather than just being on the sidelines, they were a part of the making of something great? In the movie world in NZ I wonder if that extends to people who wanted to be a part of the Middle Earth phenomenon that took over our little country. Just to be able to say, I was a part of that.

For myself I've been wondering.  What part of greatness have I had a hand in, or want to have a hand in helping to achieve?

I've come to the realisation that greatness doesn't have to be on a grand 'let's change the world' scale.  Yes people who fought for women's right to vote, marriage equality or against any number of human rights atrocities, have a hand in what I would call greatness.  However I don't think it necessarily needs to be on that scale.  At the end of their life, I believe most people would like to be able to look back and point at something and say, I did that or I was a part of that and that was my contribution to the world.

It's my birthday today and I've been joking with friends that I'm officially closer to 70 than birth (which is an arbitrary figure if you think about it).  I guess it's helped spur me on to contemplate whether I would look back on my life and say there's where I achieved, or helped to achieve, greatness.  I'm not sure I've done it yet.  The problem is, I'm not sure what I want that greatness to be.

My other question is, how does one recognise that they are in the midst of doing something that is 'great' or is it that for us mere mortals greatness is the sum total of all the little things we do and the little victories we have?  Or are we destined to move into oblivion with no more impact than a bug on a windscreen?  

Just a bit of navel gazing today.... 


  1. I've been pondering your ponderings.

    I don't think we ever know at the time that we were part of something great. I think people in general do the best they can, they fight for the things they're passionate about and take each step as it comes. It's only in hindsight or years later that anyone can say "that was something great or will be memorable".

    It may also be that a child you taught (while you were teaching) was inspired by you and will go on to do wonderful things. You may never know that you were part of that child's greatness, or you may find out many years into the future.

  2. I get that you may be involved in some peripheral way in someone's greatness without knowing but how does that translate to your deathbed flashback?