I’ve started playing a game on my Facebook page (ck’s days). I start with two questions and if I get any bites, I keep the game going as long as I can usually by playing the devil’s advocate.
The other night I posted: who is the most influential person you’ve ever met?
Who is the person that changed your life’s direction and put you on the course you’re on now (excluding the obvious spouse/fiancé answers)?
My niece Bubba (also my biggest fan) took the bait. She replied, “This is hard for me to answer! I feel like everyone in my life has influenced my life and got me exactly where I am today! Some good and some not great! However I am so thankful for everyone that has helped shape the person I am today!”
Encouraged, I continued: Do you think you’d show up on someone else’s list?
To which she replied, “I don’t really feel like I would. Not specifically anyway. But I would hope a few people would think of me when this comes to mind.”
I asked the questions because of the movie 42. I went to see it a few weeks ago and recommend it. As far as movies go, it was okay. What elevated its status is the fact it is based on a true story. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. How ordinary people who are just living their lives are sometimes called upon to do great things. So what makes a person great?
Let me back up and explain that the movie is based on Jackie Robison’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1947 Jackie was the first African-American to play for the then segregated Major League Baseball. My dad was in 7th grade when this happened so I took him to see the movie with me. Afterward I asked, “Did you know all that happened?” Referring to the prejudice the Robinson family endured.
“No,” he replied. “We lived in Wyoming. All we had was the radio to listen to the games. I had no idea.”
Back to my question, what makes a person great? Here are a few things I decided.
First, a person who seeks greatness usually fails. Just look at any dictatorship. I really don’t think it’s possible to force greatness. Perhaps there is an example out there but every instance I thought of ended badly. At least, for some poor schmo.
Second, great moments are more attainable than being a great person. However, moments are not resolute. They are, by definition, fleeting. Even a scoundrel can have one great moment. And, as we know too well, heroes can fall.
Third, in order to be great, we need to be good. I don’t think greatness can be planned. It’s more a matter of making right choices consistently and then being called upon to do something bigger. The call doesn’t come to every good person. A lot of good people could have been great if needed.
When I think of someone great, I think of someone who has influenced at least one other person for good. Perhaps even saved a life. At the beginning of the year, I declared that was one of my goals. This might set a record for the quickest renege, but I take it back. To save a life, or to be great, takes a lot of dedication, effort, patience, and the list goes on. I realized, I don’t think I have it in me. It even inspired one of my memes.
Instead, my goal is to be a good person. Somebody who wears my last name well. And if, by chance, I manage to help somebody along the way well then, yeah, that will be cool.