At the end of every year magazines, news organizations, websites, all come out with their top 10 lists of events, people, songs, etc. Someone put together a list of who they consider to be the 100 most influential people of the last millennium. I think it’s a pretty good list. I might rearrange the order a bit if it were me, but it’s a start.
In college I took my history of civilization courses at BYU through the Special Collections at the library. As part of the final the second semester we had to write an essay about the most influential person in each century since the invention of the printing press. That final (that particular essay was only part of it) took me the entire allotted 3 hours, a blue book and a half, and I couldn’t straighten my arm or open my fingers when I finished because I’d been writing straight for the entire 3 hours. Gutenberg was definitely part of that essay.
My life is still being influenced, however I’m sure I could come up with the 100 most influential people in my own life already.
The list would of course include my parents, and those who helped them get together. And their parents, even though I did not know either of my grandmas well, the lives they lived have played a part in who I am today. I would not be who I am without my siblings who made growing up the adventure that it was. Brett is certainly one of the most influential people in my life, with an influence that grows daily. And our children, the one sleeping in her crib right now, the ones I never got the chance to meet in this life, and the ones I’ll meet in the future.
My list would include the teachers I had who encouraged me to be a teacher myself. The ones who helped me discover my interests in different subjects, who pushed me to be better. It would include the ones who gave me examples of the kind of teacher I wanted to be. It would include the professors who stretched my mind and showed me there was more possible then I’d yet imagined. And the students I’ve had. The ones who opened my heart wide and crawled right in, the ones who challenged me, the ones who excited me with their enthusiasm.
My list would include the church leaders and teachers who helped me understand the gospel as well as those who helped me understand the type of leader and teacher I wanted to be when I grew up. It would include the teachers and leaders I’ve served with as an adult. Especially the three who helped Brett and I get together and the one who helped us as our doula when Iddo was born.
And friends. Oh the friends I’ve had. A lot of them I’m no longer in contact with because no matter how strongly you promised to write when one or the other moved, it never lasted. But that doesn’t change their influence. I wonder if our children will have that problem since social media has made it easy to stay in contact with/stalk just about everyone you meet. Some came into my life and filled a need at the time and we’ve since moved on. Others are still actively influencing my life.
The list would also include a few who wouldn’t immediately come to mind because their influence didn’t exactly come about in a positive way. Like the girl in 7th-grade who decided she hated me and tried to get everyone else to hate me and by the end of the year had no friends. She taught me that I should be myself and those who mattered would see the truth. Which is why about 7 years ago when another girl decided she hated me and tried to get everyone else to hate me, I mainly just laughed.
There are so many people in my life who have had an influence, large and small, who probably do not know the difference they made in my life. It makes me hope that the influence I’m having on those around me is a positive one even if I wouldn’t make their list of the top 100 people.