Building on several earlier postings of reflections here and here, the final throes of unpacking tonight led to the discovery of a quote by the famous portrait photographer Yousuf Karsh cut out of an old Sunday newspaper edition of Parade Magazine – of all things! – from my high school years over 30 years ago, a quote which has had a place on a bulletin board where I have lived for many of the years since then:
Can he recognize a person’s extraordinary qualities right away? Is greatness visible?
“Intuitively you sense that you are in its presence,” Karsh answers, “but I cannot tell you how. At times, you can tell by someone’s conversation and compassion. But not all great people are articulate or verbal enough to express it. Nevertheless, you feel that it’s there.
“But I have found that great people do have some things in common. One is an immense belief in themselves and in their mission. They also have great determination as well as an ability to work hard. At the crucial moment of decision, they draw on their accumulated wisdom. But above all, they have integrity.
“I’ve also seen that great men are often lonely. This is understandable, because they have built such high standards for themselves that they often feel alone. But that same loneliness is part of their ability to create. Character, like a photograph, develops in darkness.”