• By Caitlin Johnstone

Aspire to Greatness (The Real Kind)


Aspire to greatness, but not the kind they teach you about in school. Not the kind where you can all be astronauts and presidents when you grow up so long as you “apply yourself” (whatever that means) and other such nonsense. Not the kind where you get good grades so you can get into a good university so you can get into a good job adding numbers to a rich man’s bank account for the occasional pat on the back and the right to live on the planet that you were born on and then someday that somehow translates into you feeling okay with life and being able to appreciate the raw beauty of leaves.


Aspire to greatness, but not the kind they teach you about in church. Not the kind where you get okay with being meek and submissive and giving ten percent of your income to the preacher man so you can be rewarded in some metaphysical way that remains invisible to you until you die and it’s too late to realize you wasted your life singing about some imaginary douchebag from Nazareth.


Aspire to greatness, but not the kind they teach you about in movies. Not the kind where you are the main character and the whole story is about you and your goal which you attain by overcoming insurmountable odds and kicking the villain into a trash compactor and then claiming your girl or your trophy or your trophy girl. Not the kind where everyone cheers for you because you did the thing and got it done in under two hours in a way everyone finds egoically pleasing and not too cognitively challenging.


Aspire to greatness. The real kind. The kind that really shows up to this weird and wild ride and relishes every sweet sloppy ecstatic nauseating labia-stretching moment of it. The kind that human life isn’t wasted on. Not because it racked up a bunch of self-aggrandizing achievements and accomplishments, but because it really showed up. It really showed up for each precious instant, cherished it, worshipped it, and let it pass by without grasping.


Aspire to greatness, because the ice caps are melting and the insects are dying and the ground is paved with dead fish and birds and the Bastards are pretty sure they can win a nuclear war if they need to. And it would be such a tearfountain shame if this all went away without having been truly felt, truly experienced, truly met, truly loved, in every way possible, by everyone, including you, especially you.


Aspire to greatness. The kind you’d want from an audience if you were putting on this whole show for them for one time and one time only. Greatness in your appreciation. Greatness in your attentiveness. Greatness in your awe. Greatness in your reverence at an unceasing eruption of wonderment whose majesty no teacher, preacher or filmmaker has ever prepared us for, could ever prepare us for.

True greatness does not speak in the language of narrative. It drinks wordlessly from breasts of the earth.


Caitlin John is an independent journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Her website is here and you can follow her on Twitter @caitoz. Her collection of poems is entitled Poems for Rebels.