Great Minds

Feb 5, 2024

What is a great mind?  Is it a deep thinking mind from many centuries ago?  Or, a mind you met just today?  Is it great if it rattles off great puns?  Is it a great mind hidden deep inside a bum on the bowery whose mind that hit on hard times.  Do all scholars have great minds even if they don’t know how to tie his shoe?  Maybe it’s a mind that was sent to prison for standing its ground. It’s not so easy to define a great mind.

I’m not sure I ever met a “great mind”.  I’ve met famous people and terrific teachers, doctors and lawyers and politicians (even some with great minds)..  And, artists who amazed me with their vision and skills. I’ve studied Socrates and Plato but that was long ago at a time when their words were way over my head. I guess they were great minds but, I didn’t know that at the time.

I’ve met advertising writers who were clever and journalists who were smart. I’ve met dogs with great instincts (or, so it seems).  If you just pay attention, you can learn a lot from a dog.  I’ve met children who have expressed great innocent wisdom and janitors who know more about life than most of those who are well educated.

And, I’m lucky to say, I have a few friends with great minds.  Yes, they were good students who followed the rules and they had very successful careers.  But moreso, when they retired their great minds began to really flourish.

I know a teacher named Joe, who became a photographer.  He loves nature and the street life of New York City.  His photos tell great stories of the poor who find hope and joy from just a moment in time.  He captures their laughter, their achievements and their everyday experiences that make life so sweet.  And, his nature photos capture … nature in all of her glory.  He makes me look at life through his looking glass. And, my day is always better after I see what he sees..

I had a janitor when I owned a small building in Richmond, Virginia.  His name was Nathaniel  What a sweet man.  He was quiet and reliable and very thorough doing his work.  On occasion we would chat about race relations.  In his spare time he ministered to his flock in a small church. We talked about the days of old in Richmond when life was very hard.  And, we talked about the progress that’s been made.  While the scars still remain his heart is filled with hope for a better tomorrow.  I will always remember his optimism.  And, to me that is a great thing to share with your church goers and the people who pass through your life.


I had a teacher named Joseph Caruso.  He was a retired US Army Sergeant..  I think he taught Seventh Grade.  John deeply loved to teach American History.  At one point we were learning about South Carolina before the Civil War.  To illustrate his point he would stand up on top of a desk and bellow out the words of John C. Calhoon, an American statesman and political theorist from South Carolina who served as the seventh vice president of the United States.  To me he took a dry subject and brought it to life.  I’ll never forget his enthusiasm.  It was a great sight to see.

And, I once met an advertising copywriter in Nashville, Tennessee.  I was showing a group of creative folk our film production demo reel.  Afterwards, we stepped into his office and I innocently asked him, “What makes a great copywriter?”  He replied, “It’s all about someone who understands human nature.”  Just a few short words but, really a great memory to me.

My dear wife surely has a great mind.  After all, she chose me to be her husband.  Apart from that moment of greatness, she’s a voracious reader and is beaming with kindness and intelligence.  To me she was one of very few great and very caring nurses. To know how to heal a wounded soul is, indeed someone with a great mind.

And, she has a wonderful hearty laugh.  Only someone with a great mind can enjoy a moment like she does.

My old and dear friends, Mike and Fred both have great, clear-thinking minds.  Both are funny.  Both are well read.  Both are great students of contemporary culture.  And, both are wonderful punsters.  Their great minds keep my trying-to-be-great mind alive and curious.

And, then I met a guy named Stan, a meteorologist, a student of classical piano, and another fabulous punster.  His greatness lies in his warmth, his sense of humor and his astounding knowledge of the universe.  I really love spending time with him.  And, I hope some of his greatness rubs off on me one day.

Well, I don’t know if I truly addressed the assignment but, I had fun writing this little ditty.