Wednesday, August 22, 2012

What Is Greatness Anyway?!


Several years ago my best friend Sandra gave me a t-shirt as a gift. It's a dainty pink thing with a message subtly written in pink script on the front. Now I'm not a pink girl at all and usually stay away from the stereotypical color. Needless to say It has become my favorite shirtsand I wear it as often as I want. It is quite unsuspecting and if you don't look closely you might miss the message the shirt gives. It simply says: "Defy The Odds." Nothing else; no graphics just the words "Defy The Odds!"

She gave it to me at a time in my life when it certainly seemed that the odds were against me and although I don't look at life that way, those on the outside looking in certainly did I later learned.

This morning I came across an article about an ad that debuted during the recent Olympic games. The ad is about greatness-finding your greatness and it has caused some controversy because of the overweight kid in it and its message. The ad depicts an overweight kid running up a country road with miles of green grass on either side and with only the most stunning sky and clouds in the background. Like the shirt Sandra gave me the ad is simple as is its message. There is no theme music, no cheering crowd, just an overweight boy running up the road.



The narrator, with a British accent, chimes in about greatness being something that we made up; something that has been reserved for a chosen few. I thought about what he was saying and who we attribute greatness to: the record setting and record breaking athletes that make the winning shot in the last three seconds of the game while the crowd roars in amazement or disbelief; to those whose movie generates millions of dollars at the box office on opening day; to those who drop out of college and go on to become giants in the world of social media or computer technology; to man who is the product of a single white mother and African father who steps outside of the box society has created for him and rises out of nowhere to become the first Black President of the greatest country on earth..against the odds. The rest of us are only allowed to observe their greatness only possessing our own in the owning of memorabilia depicting those deemed to be great.

As I watched the ad (over and over and over...) and watched the boy running up that road I thought of all the people that I come in contact with on a daily basis who think that the characteristic of greatness has been set aside for the chosen and that they themselves possess not. I thought about the kids who are bullied at school but who find the strength to continue to go to school every day and face their bullies-and their fear-often without ever telling a single soul. I thought about the single moms-and dads-who use their creativity and resourcefulness to somehow make ends meet every month and provide for their families in an economy that says they shouldn't be able to do so. I thought about the unemployed men and women who make the decision to get up every day and look for work in an economy where jobs are scarce. I thought about my own decision and the decision of many like me to take my four young children and walk away from a financially comfortable but verbally and emotionally abusive marriage with nothing facing poverty and homelessness in order to create a stable life for me and my children. I thought about the nameless men and women I see working in mediocre jobs everyday serving others. They too must dream of being called great but I can imagine that they don't think they ever will. They don't realize that they are greatness!

I thought about what it takes to "Defy The Odds" that life often presents to us in the midst of criticism and discouragement from those around us in order to fulfill a deep desire to be free. Free to live without being judged or criticized because of our race, gender, weight or because of the way we wear our hair or the clothes we wear. Free to be happy and experience the joy and beauty of life that is all around us if we open our eyes to see it. Free to live outside of the box that society puts us in and express our uniqueness and individuality. Free to just BE!

Greatness! The audacity to look within and find the courage to chase the dream that keeps you awake at night no matter how crazy it sounds to others. To find a way to feed and clothe your family when you're tired and it isn't easy to do so. To do what everyone else says you shouldn't! To stand out in the crowd when everyone is looking at you as if you are deranged. To keep trying over and over when you feel like giving up.  To be overweight and make the decision to run. That's greatness! its not something you achieve it's something that you ARE. Every one of us is greatness! Regardless of our size, skin color, sexual orientation, or career choice, we are greatness! So when it seems that the odds are against you, be your greatness and defy them just like the boy in the ad.

In luv and Dessert,

Leisa Monique