The Eternity of Accomplishments

We were driving on Interstate 695 and passed the sign for Unitas Stadium at Towson University. I recalled when the stadium was renamed for Johnny Unitas after he passed away in 2002. Unitas Stadium is the third name this stadium has had. I wondered how long a sports figure’s name is remembered. How many generations will pass before someone says, “Who was Unitas, and why is this stadium named after him?” Taking that thought process one step further, if you don’t have family members or friends who are knowledgeable about sports, do you know – do you even care – who Johnny Unitas was?

I contrast that to people like Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Da Vinci, Monet, and Van Gogh – names hardly anyone can escape being acquainted with. These people and their accomplishments are eternal. Their music, art, concepts and philosophies are taught in schools, woven into fiction and non-fiction books, and become snippets in commercials. Their accomplishments in their specific fields are foundations for so many other things. You don’t have to be involved in music to be acquainted with their lullabies, symphonies, or waltzes. You don’t have to be an artist to have seen “Starry Night” on a book cover, t-shirt, or poster. You don’t have to be a philosopher, scientist, or mathematician to know of their theories and discoveries. And think of religious figures. There’s no way to escape knowing the names of people like Jesus, Gautama Buddha, Krishna, Moses, etc.

Circling back to sports, it seems that the sport itself is remembered, but are the names attached to the sports eternal? Do they only become eternal when awards are handed out in their names, foundations are created to continue their good works, or stadiums are named after them? And are sports figures more regionalized and not subject to becoming globally renowned? For example, does anyone in Mumbai know the 1942 Preakness winner and the jockey who rode the horse to fame? Who in Luxembourg might know the stats of the 1963 Football Hall of Famer from the Chicago Bears?

I guess the ultimate question is, what is the driving force behind those whose accomplishments become eternal compared to those who are more generational? It’s about spreading the word, networking, challenging their ideas – and could it be related to the period in which they live? Could it be that as we develop more and more methods of communication – telephone, radio, television, internet, social networks – that there is such a high volume of messaging in so many forms that the important messages may be getting lost in noise? Word of mouth and painstakingly slow written communications of the past meant being persistent if you wanted to get your message out to the masses. Suffering for the sake of your message was not uncommon. These days, we tweet in 140 characters and post blogs that may never be read unless you’ve got a handful of followers. Self-publishing, self-promotion are so easy that anyone can do it. Getting the audience is the difficult part. So when we’re flooded with messages day and night, how do we eliminate the noise, identify and focus on the important messages? How do we know that we’re not missing the art, the music, the philosophy, and the spiritual direction of the people who are supposed to be the next set of eternals?

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Sunday’s Random Thoughts

A nice sunny Sunday morning in Westminster.  Snow is sparkling, birds are flocking to the bird feeders under the deck, and Buddy is barking at a black cat that is curled up on the wicker chair on the front porch.  A great start to the day!

I got my hair done Friday night at Freestyle.  My hairdresser, Lisa P, is the best.  She listens to what I try to describe and does it perfectly.  I’ll admit I’m probably not her ideal client sometimes – I’ve been known to get a little freaked out if the color isn’t what I expect or if I don’t immediately see the shaping around my neck.  She’s cool, though, and bears with me.

One thing I like at Freestyle is that they play a good range of music.  I don’t know who makes up their mix CDs, but they’re really good.  I always enjoy hearing music, especially if it’s something I don’t know.  I like to expand my musical horizons.

One of the songs was really interesting – I didn’t recall ever hearing it.  I was trying to catch some of the words above the hair dryers and conversations, and all I could grab onto was the phrase “what did she say.”  I figured I’d do a lyric search when I got a chance so I could find out the name of the song.

So yesterday evening I turned the TV on and flicked through the channels.  I stopped on a rerun of Saturday Night Live.  And wouldn’t you know, in one of the skits the same song was playing.  Freaky.  I grabbed my phone and clicked on the VCast Song ID app.  It did its thing and returned “Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap.

Isn’t technology like that absolutely mind blowing?  I mean, how cool is it to be able to take your phone, point it towards the music, and have the phone app tell you who the artist is, the name of the song, and the album’s title?  Freaking awesome.  I downloaded the song from iTunes this morning.  Cool song.  Oh yeah – and now it’s my ringback tone.

Super Bowl Sunday and a new Glee tonight.  I’m more excited about Glee (I love that show!) but Glee would have been tied with the Super Bowl if my beloved Chicago Bears had made it there.  Ah, well – there’s always next year.