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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dimples and Craters: Acheiving MAXIMUM IMPACT

"I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where..."
From "The Arrow and the Song"
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



I find the term "meteoric rise" to be somewhat oxymoronic. After all, meteors don't rise. Well in space they might, if there is an "up" up there.

The term references a brilliant, streaking light in the night sky that comes out of nowhere and bounces with a fiery glow across the edge of our atmosphere before fading into nothingness. In that sense, "meteoric rise" is a metaphor for an individual whose soaring achievement similarly comes out of nowhere, but burns so brightly that it attracts everyone's attention and is hard to miss. And, unfortunately, like their namesakes, this moment of personal glory burns to a fizzle and is quickly gone.

But streaking meteors aren't actually rising. They are hurtling at tremendous speeds towards the earth. Where the metaphor falls apart is, well, where the meteor falls apart - on re-entry - and that's just the climax of its journey. It's still around until -

KABLOOEY!! It slams into the ground! What impact is left in it's wake? It depends on the size of the meteor. Arizona's Meteor Crater is a huge impact site, 4,000 feet across, 550 feet deep! They dug a 1,400 lb. meteorite out of that crater. OMG, as the kids say.

What if the meteor's impact were just a dimple, a pockmark on the planet, neither bigger nor more impressive than the hole left behind when when you pull a skipping stone from the clay? If it were your brilliance hurtling towards the earth, what would be its maximum impact?

"I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where..."

Ibid, 2nd verse

So I guess not all impacts are from arrows. Some are indeed from beautiful songs. Either way, I think Longfellow would agree that whatever we issue to the world, be it through fisticuffs or Facebook, bombs or Brahms, Bush or Buddha, they land with an impact that has more permanence than we realize. As for me, I hope that my impact is, as the people gathered on the mountaintop for the soda commercial sang (or would have sung, had they not been selling soda pop): "a song of peace that echoes on and never goes away."

"Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend."

Ibid, 3rd verse


I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing-The Shaw Brothers
-PBG
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