I had been immortalized.
Well, not I, but my name for it has been written into the pages of history. At long last and with much effort I have attained for myself a position of greatness in the world. Many thought this an impossibility for I was a young person from a no name place, in the midst of a bunch of people whose names will never be remembered beyond a decade of their death aside from those they call family.
I desired to be unlike those around me. I desired to be great and to be remembered. I was an individual with high ambition, though I admit my motives were not gold, but who has not desired to be beyond what they are. I do not think that this is altogether too unsavoury of an appetite for one to have in this life.
My desires brought me to the practice of rigorous and severe self-discipline; aiming to perfect my philosophy on life, my attitude towards the world and my confidence in myself. I sought for guidance from those who knew what it was to achieve that which I wanted. I sought out the wealthy, I sought out the proud, and I sought out the great. With them I knew I would discover a future unlike what anyone thought possible for me. And this is what I found.
I became connected with high society. I found those who I saw as rightly deserving the place of honour at the feast and they taught me what it was to be like them. I kept my goal always before my eyes, religiously reminding myself reminded myself of the duties I must perform in order to be like those I had surrounded myself with. I disowned all that was of my past, disconnecting myself with any ties to the humble ways of a nameless place. I knew that though one day the low and the weak would serve me, lowliness could be of no service to me in my pursuit.
In time and with much effort I began to take shape, to be moulded into the likeness of those I followed. Wealth, it was mine. I acquired an estate comparable to any other of outstanding greatness. Fame, it was mine. I became a teacher and instructor to many, advising them in the ways of success as those who had brought me into this place. My words of wisdom have been recorded in the most celebrated articles of this time; my face on the cover of what will be the most remembered journals; my name is written into the history books. And power, power was very mine in better ways that I had imagined. When I was young I dreamed of the power to move any boulder standing in my way. But as I grew I had come to realize that true power was not the ability to move the boulder on my own, but it was the ability to make others do this work instead. I had the ability to completely shift any burden I had to bear onto the shoulders of another. Corrupt? Perhaps, though I shall never admit it. In control? Definitely, and I should admit it until my dying day.
So I had thought, and so I had believed. It has now come to both amuse and disgust me how significantly my thoughts and beliefs change when I lie before the door of eternity and my dying day has finally arrived. Oh how my thoughts change when the physical control of my body has so ailed with age that I scarcely have the ability to perform necessary and basic bodily functions without the assistance of someone more able. I desired to be served, but not like this.
I realize now, but all too late to avoid wasting a life, that my greatness had become my greatest weakness, and the weakness of those I mocked, was their greatest strength. I realize that as the pages of this life have finished turning, it does not matter how immortalized my name becomes in the magazines, journals and history books. It does not matter what famous historian’s hand would come to write my story. The only hand that has ever meant anything is that which would have written my name into a book recording those who gave their lives while on this earth, not those who took it. I thought that by great effort and ambition I would carve my name into eternity, but I doubt that I have achieved an etching of any significance into even the least of persons such that it will extend by the days of earth. For the least were precisely those I had ignored, and it was precisely the least of lease whom I needed to pay the most attention to.
This I realize as a humble servant changes my bedpan and washes my feet, that in these acts they do far greater things than I had ever done. As they hum some old hymn that I had long ignored I know that their investments would reap far greater benefits than my wealth could ever compare to. They have taught me something now that far outweighs the lies that I had propagated. I had thought I had immortalized my name, but rather, in my constant kicking against the goad I had immobilized myself in the pains of selfish ambition, conceit and my efforts were all in vain.
And now the truth: that my greatness and satisfaction in life would never, and could never be the conclusion to a story where I was the one turning the pages. My greatness could only have ever been found by tossing that book into the fire, and clinging to the pages of another story written by another author...by the Author. And yet even then I would have realized it was not my greatness, but His, a far greater one than I could ever achieve, that I would be clinging to.
(written for school assignment based on Matthew 23:4-12)