Tag Archives: significance

On This Date: 09/16/16

happy-national-guacamole-day-todayshow

First, and importantly, Happy National Guacamole Day!

On this date in 1620 the Mayflower set sail from England with Captain Christopher Jones and crew and their 102 passengers.  About half lived long enough to step foot on land again.

On this date in 1810 a Roman Catholic priest rang the church bells in Dolores, Mexico, and urged the people to revolt and launched the war that led to Mexico’s independence from Spain.

On this date in 1908, at age forty-six, William C. Durant invested $500,000 to create General Motors.  Durant went bankrupt during the Great Depression and reportedly ended up managing a bowling alley in Flint, Michigan, in his eighties.

On this date in 1959 Xerox introduced the first copy machine to the world on live television.  The 914 model featured “scorch eliminators” since they periodically burst into flames and marketers thought that the word “fire” in fire extinguisher was a bad idea.¹

On this date in 1970 yours truly was born in Arkansas, completing the little Sturgeon family.  Little me snagged the same birthday as legends like Lauren Bacall, B.B. King, Elgin Baylor, David Copperfield, and exactly one year later, Amy Poehler.

I find all of this interesting, particularly the part involving my birth.  But to be honest, I’m more interested in what will happen on this date.  Today.  September 16, 2016.

What will you do with this gift of a day?  Maybe you’ll do something to make the history books, but my hope is that you do something world-changing that won’t.  The greatest moments in life are those quiet treasures like investing time in the life of a child, getting to know someone different from you, sharing with someone who is living without, and lending your friendship to someone who is lonely.

We will all do something on this date, but once this day is in the books, will anyone care to remember?

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¹ Hemmungs Wirtén, Eva (2004). No Trespassing: Authorship, Intellectual Property Rights, and the Boundaries of Globalization. University of Toronto Press. p. 61.

Shooting for Significance

After undoubtedly the most thrilling finish in the history of the NCAA basketball tournament, I remembered my personal stories of hoops heroics (i.e., coming off the bench to sink crucial free throws against Tyronza in 1986; converting a five-point play in OT to defeat Marmaduke in 1988) before ultimately concluding that nobody cares except me.  This is true because I have tried on multiple occasions to express the greatness of my shining moments to my sweet wife who loves me very much.  And she surely doesn’t care.

I, along with an inestimable number of fellow human beings, dreamed of doing what Kris Jenkins did in Houston on Monday night: deliver the game-winning shot in the biggest game in front of the entire world.  How many kids on sun-filled playgrounds, in sweltering gyms, in lonely backyards, in their wildest dreams, lusted for such a moment?  How many of us still do?

What makes a college student tossing an orange ball through a metal cylinder twice its size from ten yards away such an object of deep admiration?  What is it about the tournament itself that would cause a television network to invest $10.8 billion dollars for the rights to show it to the world for fourteen years?

It is madness.  To be specific, March Madness.

I am convinced that it runs far deeper than the human desire for entertainment; instead, it is an inherent longing for significance.  We all want (at the very least) one shining moment.  In Kris Jenkins, we find a representative of our desire to come through at just the right time for the force of good (sorry Tar Heel Nation, just a metaphor) and be a hero.  That way, the world will not soon forget us, we think.  Springsteen singing about glory days and all that.

Is it terrible of us to think this way?  Well, it obviously can be (we can start with, um, Hitler), but I do not think that the quest for significance is necessarily terrible at all.  At least I hope not, since we are all infected.  For just a personal sampler, it is surely that part of my brain that causes me to post on social media how far I run, or check the number of “likes” on a Facebook post, or look at how many people read my blog.  Surely I’m not alone in this.  We all want to do something worthwhile.

The real question is: What is the measure we use to gauge significance?  Since the answer to that question determines everything else, it deserves some pretty serious reflection.