“Yes. That’s what creativity is. More than one right answer.”
— Quinn McDonald, Artist and Creativity Coach
Two days after Thanksgiving in the middle of a road trip I found myself inside of a Pennsylvania library browsing through a small shelf of books for sale. Earlier that morning I had a craving for reading, and the motel’s copy of the Gideon Bible inspired me with a Proverbial thought, a Revelation, if you will. Go find the nearest public library and buy a used book.
Standing before the selection of books, one in particular caught my eye. A large, green poofy-covered volume stood tall amongst the rest of the books. As I pulled it from the shelf, I found the embossed gold-lettering on the front cover intriguing. Inside of a classy double-lined square border the title gleamed with a decades-worn dullness:
THE TREASURE CHEST
I quickly opened the book to the title page which encapsulated the book’s theme in a 19-word tagline:
A Heritage Album Containing 1064 Familiar and Inspirational
Quotations, Poems, Sentiments, and Prayers
From Great Minds of 2500 Years
The book was edited by Charles L. Wallace and published in 1965. A treasure chest? I’ve struck good-reading gold! I smiled to myself and carried the 41-year-old book to the front desk where the librarian charged me three dollars for it. I spent the rest of the day sampling bits of wisdom from “Great Minds” like Oliver Wendell Holmes, Emily Dickinson, and Abraham Lincoln.
After coming home from my Pennsylvania trip, I placed the big green book on my dresser where it sat untouched for several weeks. One night I picked it up and part of the spine came loose when I opened the front cover. I set the book aside intending to glue the spine later, but came back to it the next day finding a piece of clear tape holding the loose spine in place. My husband, the brilliant problem-solver in the house, found my loose-spined green book and mended it for me.
It’s funny how a writer gets inspired. I took one look at my newly-mended book and a flood of thoughts challenging the idea of “Great Minds” began to surface. It went something like this:
Great Minds? Who decides who has a great mind?
Great Minds? These are all famous dead people who expressed personal insights built upon other people’s personal insights.
Who decides if or when a person is quoteworthy?
Do thought-provoking expressions make a Great quoteworthy Mind?
If so, I know of thousands of Great Minds whose words will never be compiled in a big green poofy-covered gold-embossed treasure book for others to read decades, years, or even weeks later.
It was at that moment that I knew I had to write about the injustice of Quote-Worthiness in our society. Ninety-nine percent of the John and Jane Nobody’s in the world who say useful, profound, and thought-provoking things will never be quoted. Why? Because of the assumption that only famous, rich, or extremely brilliant people say things that are worthy enough to be quoted — and for that matter, written about in a book. Undoubtedly, it has something to do with brand recognition, too.