Tomorrow, the first African American will be sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. Historical events.
No one has ever been the 44th president of the United States before. Forty-three leaders have been sworn before God and the world to serve the best interests of the United States of America and its people. Obama will be number 44. History. A 44th president.
Others more eloquent than I have discussed and will continue to describe the historical nature of this African American man’s election. Books will be written, films will be made. Though I have thoughts on the president-elect’s significance, this topic is simply Making History. Hence my reference to the uniqueness of the 44th president. There has never been and never will be another 44th.
Your Sunday was as unique as the Cardinals’. And your Tuesday will be as individual as Obama’s. Perhaps not as wide-reaching. I think a boulder tossed into a lake would send ripples farther and longer than a pebble tossed into the same lake, unlike Galileo’s presumed experiments of balls of different densities landing below the Tower of Pisa at approximately the same time.
Obama lives large and is making grand history. The Cardinals will be living large for the next month and may make famous or infamous history at the SuperBowl.
But we all make history. You. Me. Perhaps proportional to the gusto with which we live, or the enthusiasm or breadth and depth of good deeds and kindnesses – or misdeeds and horrors. We choose to be minor players or interact with others more passionately (whether positively or negatively).
I’ve rarely, if ever, considered that the way I lived a certain day made history. I’ve been part of history, my autobiography having been published as a chapter in a book about a small subset of women, while I was in my early 40s. Seemed historical at the time. Too young for a “life story.” I’ve attended a first conference on something and a last seminar on another thing.
How would I plan my day and check off my tasks were I conscious of making history? What if my day consumed a paragraph in a high-schooler’s textbook? Would it be worth reading? Or would the whole chapter about me be as lifeless and insignificant as cold, flat roadkill?
Why do people tend to leave the big events and big impacts up to big people? Surely we know one person can have the effect of a Haley’s comet, rare and life-changing. Many of us do work to make history in our communities: volunteering, raising money, visiting people who matter but are less visible than are others, caring for a disabled child into adulthood, remembering birthdays…
As Brandi Snyder may have said:
To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.
Photo courtesy The Obama-Biden Transition Project