These succulents were clustered around the grounds of one of the last places we stayed in Costa Rica, Savegre Hotel Natural Reserve & Spa. In some strange way, this image reminds of a Van Gogh painting, or perhaps something that he might have painted. It also reminds me of a book I read years ago that left in indelible mark on my understanding of those like Van Gogh whose accomplishments can only be understood within the context of mental illness: The Price of Greatness: Resolving the Creativity and Madness Controversy.
The book summarizes a decade of research by Arnold Ludwig to understand links between creative achievement, mental illness, and the nature of greatness. After pouring over bibliographic information on thousands of notable creative folks (artists, actors, musicians, writers), Ludwig brilliantly pieces together a template for the factors that work together to produce individual greatness, including: innate talent, parents that recognize and support development of the talent, being a loner, personality trait of contrariness, and a personal stamp or seal on one’s work. There is more, but I don’t want to spoil this great read for you.
I think on some level we all have a part of us that wants to achieve greatness in something. While ego drives many to great heights, often the price of greatness when this happens is loss of health, little time with family, and a continued life of ignorance as to what really matters. The key is to become the best version of ourselves that we can become, without sacrificing what is truly important in life.