Becoming Listless

Becoming Listless

Last night, I watched a cable TV show that listed the millennium's 100 most influential people. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be on the list, but when they gave Genghis Khan the number 45 slot, I started to get optimistic. Here's a guy who raped, pillaged, and murdered and still made the list. I mean, I could do all that, but what makes me so loveable is that I choose not to. There must be a spot for me.

However, as the show progressed, I started to lose hope. As soon as Thomas Edison came up, I figured my chances were pretty slim. Of course, I did invent a way to match up my laundry when it comes out of the dryer, but I don't think sticking a safety pin in both socks compares with the electric light bulb. You may feel otherwise.

Anyway, I'd kind of like to get on this list someday. I'm just over 55, so I figure, God willing, I have at least 40 years to do something really influential. My problem is where to start. Most of the men and women on the list were scientists like Albert Einstein, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, and the Wright brothers. They did something that totally transformed the world. But it's too late for me to do anything influential in science. I read an article the other day that said that most of the really great inventions and scientific breakthroughs have already been made: the printing press, the airplane, the atomic bomb, the telephone. It just kills me to think what I could have thought of if I hadn't been a baby boomer.

Another big category was explorers. Ranked in the top 100 were Columbus, Magellan, and Marco Polo. Timing, timing, timing. How the heck can you expect people to aspire to exploratory greatness when all the really neat places have been discovered? And this Marco Polo adulation just kills me. I mean, discovering the Orient. Give me a break. Like you could miss it. Now find a good sushi bar in Indiana. That's a discovery.

Several artists made the list: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Rembrandt. No chance here. Most of these guys were pretty good, I have to admit. But Picasso I have a real problem with. I mean, all he did was rearrange people's faces, which, of course, is how Genghis Khan got on the list, too.

There were no TV stars on the list, which is pretty discouraging. But there were a few people from the entertainment industry like Charlie Chaplin. Even Louis Armstrong was on this list for his contribution to American jazz. Steven Spielberg made the list. One of his first movies was about a huge shark. Which reminds me, there were no lawyers on the list, either.