What impresses us? ESPNs Top Ten Plays is always impressive. Based on People Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, we’re impressed with people who can sing and act, as well as athletes, innovators, and politicians. For some reason, we also seem to be impressed with celebrities whose only claim to fame is that they’re celebrities. I’ve always wondered how that comes about.
But maybe we’re focusing on the wrong things. Maybe we should give a little more credit to the people who designed the bridge we drive over every day, or the elevators we ride in. We only tend to pay attention to them when something goes wrong, but to work, the designers, engineers, and builders had to do a million things right.
On one hand, we’re impressed with people who can do things we can’t, like throw a baseball almost 100 mph or walk a tightrope. On the other, we ignore people who are good at things we know nothing about, like dentists or farmers. We assume our fillings are supposed to be perfect and our fresh produce will be at the store whenever we want it.
Personally, I think Edwin Ruud, inventor of the tank storage water heater, should get more credit. If I had to do without modern conveniences, a hot shower would be in my top ten of most missed.
I’m fairly ordinary, but I graduated from college with honors, I’m a decent cook, I’ve made some lovely quilts, and I’ve written several books and short stories. And yet, the only time I remember truly impressing my son is when he was in the fourth grade. I was typing a paper for him, and suddenly, with awe in his voice, he said, “You’re not even looking at the keyboard!”
Ironically, I’m not even a good touch typist. In my high school typing class – yes, with typewriters like old black-and-white movies – my highest speed was around thirty-two words per minute. My best friend could top fifty on a good day. Fortunately, I didn’t have to earn my living that way. And yet it impressed him because it was something he couldn’t do.
Look around. We’re surrounded by the fruits of talented people that make our lives easier, healthier, and more fun. What impresses you?