|Thu, Jul 24, 2014 12:30 AM
May 21, 2014 | 11:46 AM
Have you had the opportunity to read Time magazine's May 5 issue that presents "The 100 Most Influential People" of 2014?
I found it fascinating and encouraging. Don't get me wrong: these are not all courageous and "nice guys" who may be directing our thinking as well as their own. But, it does demonstrate that the world is not totally controlled by impersonal technology and a bunch of robots. Humans still direct the course of action on our planet.
Those chosen for this prestigious list run the gamut of skills and personalities. Some are names we all know so well but we might be surprised as to some of their most prized accomplishments.
Take Robert Redford, for instance. Most women think of a charming and handsome romantic leading man in movies. Remember that yummy dessert created several years back called "the next best thing to Robert Redford"? In Time, they describe him as an icon who has done so much to support independent film makers and who recently performed with dramatic artistic dexterity in a one-man movie. That is a far cry from the matinée idol many of us think of when we hear Redford's name.
Most of the people touted in the magazine issue had such great hidden depth in their accomplishments.
I suppose one message in these stories of overlooked skills is that everyone has the potential for surprising accomplishments. We just need to look behind the obvious and find the hidden resources in each of us.
This thought hit me as I watched the mini marathon in Louisville. On a bright, cool morning, 16,000 runners who had been training for weeks showed up to run more than 13 miles. As I watched them go past, I was struck by the raw power they were exerting. It was a mix of ages but predominately folks between the ages of 30 and 55. Think of the power they were creating as their whole body drove their feet on the pavement.
Most of the runners I spoke with expressed their goal of training and then running a prescribed distance to perform their personal best. Their sense of accomplishment was a primary driver in their quest. Someone explained to me that many of the runners had been accomplished athletes in high school and college. Even though they had finished their education, they still had the drive to stay fit and to compete. Distance races provided this opportunity for them.
I had always wondered how the mini marathon in Indianapolis could have runners pay an entry fee for an event that made the runners knees hurt but yet sold out months in advance. Thirty-six thousand runners volunteer to run 13-plus miles in that annual race.
As I watched the strong bodies speed by me, I began to dream of how we could harness the power that they were creating. Not only could they each do more than they thought they could, we as a community could use their accomplishments in broader ways than any of us ever envisioned. How could we provide the opportunity for them to achieve what mini marathons and marathons provide: the camaraderie of a shared activity, a set goal, community support, encouragement to compete and a format for keeping physically fit and at the same time capture this energy for an actual powering of something that our world needs? This would indeed be an added accomplishment they had never considered a possibility.
Here are a few of my wild ideas:
•Runners now wear computer chips to register when they start, cross lines and finish. Could these also store generated energy and dump it on an electronic grid at spots along the race? This electricity could be used to fuel almost anything.
•Could we put the same support, prestige and challenge found in the marathons to the planting of seedlings to reforest our land devastated by floods, fires and disease?
•What would it take for our innovative energy-capturing activity to incorporate the social aspects of the races: the coming together of folks from all backgrounds cheering each other on and sharing common joys and pains?
•How about partnering races with groups that refurbish homes in depressed areas? Perhaps one would have to help build homes in order to get a spot in the race. Or, it could be like a multi-skill contest, running, hammering, painting and selling.
I hate to not maximize the use of energy that these skilled runners generate. How about using some of your day-dreaming time to envision how we might capture their energy? Harrison County could be an experimental laboratory for trying something new.
Talk to your friends, think up ideas with your kids, make suggestions in meetings and let others read your ideas in this newspaper. The hype of such activity can infuse enthusiasm for runners, volunteers and spectators alike.
Each of us does important things for which we are not known. A businessman may be a great Little League coach, influencing hundreds of kids. A housewife may be a terrific gardener who provides food and flowers for others. An artist could be a newspaper writer or a techie wonder. Sometimes the talents that get hidden by the high-profile glitzy things of life have the greatest impact on our families and communities.
Let's look for talents in all of our residents and figure out how to maximize their use.