As I approach my 22nd birthday, which is tomorrow, this idea has been weighing heavily in my mind:
“In like manner we are told, that when [Julius Caesar] was in Spain, he bestowed some leisure hours on reading part of the history of Alexander, and was so much affected with it, that he sat pensive a long time, and at last burst into tears. As his friends were wondering what might be the reason, he said, “Do you think I have not sufficient cause for concern, when Alexander, at my age, reigned over so many conquered countries, and I have not one glorious achievement to boast?” — Plutarch’s Lives
The idea isn’t that in 22 years, I’ve done nothing, but that I have not one glorious achievement to boast. I hope to change this with my current work on The Chalkboard Manifesto.
Maybe I’ve been thinking about glory so much because of my class on the Roman Republic. It feels like an antiquated concept in the era of self-esteem and personal happiness. I know that I can sleep on the floor and be happy. As long as I have food and friends to share that food with, I will be happy. However, that is not the path to glory.
I used to write off this urge as a narcissistic craving for fame. Fame is not the same as glory, though. Paris Hilton is famous. There is nothing glorious about her life.
No, I want by my 23rd birthday to have some claim to a small glory. I want an accomplishment I can look back on, and proudly say, “I did this.” And I want the average spectator to be touched by incredulity, to question whether I really could have done such a thing.