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.






New book: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix.

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40 responses to “Aspire To Greatness (The Real Kind)”

  1. Frank Thompson Avatar
    Frank Thompson

    “… such a tearfountain shame…”

    Appreciate the turn of phrase.

  2. Half the battle is just getting outside the box.

  3. ‘Imaginary douchebag’
    Would that also be applicable to Mohammed, Buddha, Moses et al Caitlin?
    Dare you?

  4. “Apply yourself”. or apply others and attach a blood sucking tendril to each one and get morbidly rich!

  5. Do you realise how many of your followers you have offended with your “ douchebag from Nazareth” comment? A man who taught a counsel of perfection, a love for your fellow man and all of nature and fought mightily against the entitled classes who enslaved their subjects? You don’t need to belong to any church to realise that he was one of the good guys. I’m surprised at your invective.

    1. “Offended” is always an ego reaction. My only query is whether it is an effective phrase to pry open a locked mind.

  6. Lovely, meaningful, engaging, resonating poem. Thank you,

    Some of your touchy-feely stuff is just too much … but this strikes precisely the right chords.

    You must have attended my Dallas, Texas-area high school where one couldn’t get far away from the Southern Baptist fundamentalist mentality !

    btw, while I did not take offense at your “Nazareth douchebag” remark, I nevertheless think the person Jesus was a right-on dude. It was SaulPaul who, in Christendom’s first regime change op, turned Jesus into a mystic sky god by seizing power from James, Peter and the REAL apostles thus creating the malevolent force still powering “The Imperial West” and “Making the World Safe for Imperial Capitalism.”…

    Why SaulPaul’s sycophantic scribes left some of the most subversive and radical teachings in the four books is beyond me.

    “Worry not about the morrow, for there is evil enough in the day thereof.”

    The twenty condemnations of hypocrisy in the KJV version that no one ever hears on Sunday mornings.

    And my favorite, when you feed the poor you are helping me and when you don’t you are hurting me in Matt 25:31-46. Which also provides a Big Clue to Most Christians about Who gets the Season Tickets to the Sky Palace and Who Doesn’t.

    Hint: Not Franklin Graham, The Very Reverend Falwell, Joel Osteen, Robert Jeffress, James Hagee, the TV preachers, the Christian Dominionists and the Protestant and Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox fascists of Opus Dei and similar cults…that SHOULD make ’em sweat a bit while on This Planet … while agnostics, athiests, heathens, pagans and others who do not adhere to The Great Imperial Religion of SaulPaul do that work of justice and mercy.

    All the best to you. Your lightning bolts are Zeusian and your focus on the spiritual a refreshing addition to Left discourse.

    1. Of course, there’s little to no evidence that “Jesus of Nazareth” was an historical figure. Scripture- all of it- is intended as allegory, myth, metaphor. That we’ve missed that is the source of our confusion and misery.

  7. I seriously loved this poem! Including the “douche from Nazareth”. But that line does prevent me from sharing the article, because it is the Church that is loathesome (imo) – not the poor douche who was intentionally turned into a Savior for power and wealth, through no fault of his own. His words have been bastardized a thousand times over. I can appreciate the power of triggers for provoking spiny resistant egos to the surface so they can be identified. Something in me was just so inspired by the rest of the poem, that I suppose I need some more reflection as to why I can’t bring myself to share!

  8. I seriously loved this poem! Including the “douche from Nazareth”. But that line does prevent me from sharing the article, because it is the Church that is loathesome – not the poor douche who was intentionally turned into a Savior for power and wealth, through no fault of his own. His words have been bastardized a thousand times over. I can appreciate the power of triggers for provoking spiny egos to the surface so they can be identified. Something in me was just so inspired by the rest of the poem, that I suppose I need some more reflection as to why I can’t bring myself to share.

  9. What a miserable life one must have when rejecting the words of eternal life. A life without hope as one has only a future to look forward to similar to a dog dying in the dirt. No wonder such become overly concerned about the affairs of man around them. It isx ll they have. Such have elevated themselves to their own gods in the short span they exist.

    1. One can also use religion to get away from reality and be too little concerned with justice. I plead guilty to that. It may be true that “God moves in a mysterious way..” but that should never be used to stop trying to understand and rightly and vigorously oppose injustice.

    2. It’s critical to remind people that rejecting the words of eternal life is infinitely worse than a hopeless dog dying in the dirt. The wages of sin, not accepting the sacred blood of human sacrifice, is eternal death, infinite torment and utter desolation in the unquenchable lake of fire. Amazing grace!

  10. Another very useful work. Yet much of what you write is consistent with what Christ taught, an imaginary being or not. Christianity has failed to civilize man and has been used as an excuse for all kinds of crimes. Still why attack Christ not his misuse?

    1. The ways of God are not always apparent to man.

  11. Michael Packman Avatar
    Michael Packman

    Aspire to greatness…got me thinking ( thank you for that, I guess it’s the whole point)
    The fundamental issue behind the, almost universally adopted, culture of competition (misunderstood as achieving greatness), is that it’s the driving force, pushing for, and glorifying, inequality. Thus fuelling and resulting in, self-destruction on the planet at an unprecedented rate. Solidarity on the other hand is very rarely promoted, and almost never prized, due to the biased indoctrination we’ve all been through since birth, regardless of the country where we were born. Very few isolated cultures have remained immune to this infection.

  12. You scored some pithy truths and ways to express them in your poem, but is it “greatness” we should be after above all else or more like “fulfillment” by elegantly superimposing my accomplishments onto my natural abilities? You know, discovering what I was meant to do and perfecting it to a flawless art form. Will not maximizing that leave me most satisfied when I notice only seconds left on the big scoreboard clock of life? When I think of “greatness” the objective judgement of my acts by others–observers of my life–comes to mind. Over that we have far less control than we might imagine.
    Your life is your one masterpiece in this material world. Live it to meet your goals and standards. Be a worthy protagonist in your own story which supposedly will stand forever.

    1. Nothing but God stands forever. The rest is soon forgotten.

  13. Dear Caitlin,
    While i do appreciate your work in general, it seems that lately you are becoming more and more aggressive.
    Sometimes you are just stating the obvious and telling people what they want to hear, namely that the world is not ok at all.
    Noticing how messed up the world is, and writing angry posts about it, does not help….at all.
    Your Kipling inspired poem did not need the line “imaginary douchebag from Nazareth”.
    You can call the dude many things, but imaginary he was not, and even less a “douchebag”.
    Such lines do you no honor, take a breath and get a hold of yourself.

    1. Damn! That was my favorite line …

        1. Mine was …” every sweet, sloppy, ecstatic labia-stretching moment. . .”.

  14. Dear Caitlin,

    Greetings from Menlo Park, California. I hope this note finds you well.

    First, let me thank you for your stuff, which I’m always glad to see in my inbox. Thanks for your passion and for your integrity.

    Sometimes, of course, I disagree (something I know you have no problem with). Like just now––I can’t help feeling that it’s a touch ungenerous to assume that people who “sing about” . . . the “douchebag from Nazareth” don’t feel what you feel about this “unceasing eruption” of miracle of existence. Some of the people who sing about him have done so because they felt the wonder tearing them gloriously apart (Chesterton is one example who comes to mind–but there have been many others.)

    I tried sending you this note by replying to the email version of your post. Just in case you don’t get it (which is likely), I’m resending it here in the combox.

    Respectfully and gratefully yours,
    Adrian Walker

  15. The Daily Mail has Hunter’s laptop hard drive, confirmed it’s untampered data, and shares some of it. Pictures include his “meth mouth” teeth, and a picture in some running shoes and a scarf that you might find memorable.
    I know it’s off topic, and really vulgar, too, but it’s insight to how our world really works.
    That’s my excuse.

    1. John, thanks for the link … I had no doubts but to get a whiff of this dogcrap is nauseating. And to think this miscreant can get a memoir published. Yep, that’s how their world works all right.

  16. Aspire to greatness
    The kind that can only be known by the warmth you feel in your heart.

  17. Thanks Caitlin.
    Don’t you Love it when those in authority say ‘This will be for the greater good’, when what they really mean is ‘my greater good’.

  18. “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

    ― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
    Don’t let the bastards grind you down
    Search domain
    This originated in the British Armed Forces, whose lower ranks have for many, many years used, as a kind of humorous but informal motto, the phrase NIL ILLEGITIMI CARBORUNDUM, which of course is not proper Latin at all but is universally understood to mean exactly ‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’.

    1. In 60’s America the expression went: “Illegitimi non carborundum.”

  19. Susan Mercurio Avatar
    Susan Mercurio

    I saved this to my Pinterest storage.

  20. Wow! “Imaginary douchebag from Nazareth” ! That is just nasty and beneath you.

    1. Susan Mercurio Avatar
      Susan Mercurio

      I don’t agree with you. It’s just more straightforward than you are used to. It’s not some mealy-mouthed euphemism.

      Sorry for the cognitive dissonance it caused.

      1. So if one disagrees with you, they are guilty of “mealy-mouthed euphemism”? I’m not even a Christian, in the “salvation” sense of the word. Doesn’t stop me from appreciating much of the man’s message. Just as I appreciate much of Caitlin’s message, among an abundance of messages from others. Let’s see how Caitlin’s message holds up for the next two millennia.
        Has Christianity been weaponized? Of course. Just as anything that can be corrupted will be, if it can be weaponized it will be. Has it moved the world in a positive direction for the last 2k years? I think so, considering the condition of humanity 2k years ago, which consisted largely of direct in your face slavery, and perpetual war to acquire more slaves. Have we fallen into that condition now? We are certainly headed there. Could that be because we have come to ignore Jesus’ message and the church has been further weaponized ? Perhaps. Instead of disparaging a message in its entirety, as in “Imaginary douchebag from Nazareth”, we should grasp what we can from each and every one. From Jesus to Caitlin, to the guy on the street that’s consumed too much LSD. We all have value. Many if not most take that value to their grave.
        To assume you have a real clue about how the species can achieve “enlightenment” requires the hubris of you knowing what enlightenment is in the first place. We are stumbling around in the dark. Any light that is shed should be appreciated, not condemned for any fault.

  21. Thank you for this poem Caitlin! I didn’t know that you write poetry. With your permission I would love to publish this piece on my poetry website, The Chained Muse.


    David Gosselin

      1. Thank you! It’s posted. And please do publish more of your poetry in the future.

        If only more journalists were poets, the world would be a very different place.

        1. Susan Mercurio Avatar
          Susan Mercurio

          Caitlin has posted several poems in the past.

          1. Thank you for pointing that out! I had no idea. It’s rare to see someone who can actually treat political, moral, and historical themes in poetry in a way that doesn’t just sound like invective or some kind of didactic us vs. them verse….
            I’ll keep an eye out for those now.

  22. Warren Liebesman Avatar
    Warren Liebesman

    Absolutely wonderful.

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