Pride is a feeling of pleasure derived by the acts or qualities that we admire. It is natural to take pride in our own achievements or from those closest to us.
To be impressed is an altogether different matter. It is a feeling imposed on us. It represents something so unusually good that we can’t help but remember it. It suggests something has been forcibly pressed upon us in such a way to leave a lasting mark.
This distinction was made evident this weekend on two different occasions involving my family.
I am proud that my oldest daughter puts herself out there by performing in a local theatre group. But I was so impressed by her recent unforgettable performance as Scar in the Lion King. She so thoroughly immersed herself in a role that was so unlike her own personality that she became unrecognizable to me. Without inhibition and with such confidence, she was remarkable. I was so impressed that a ten-year old could do this.
A few days later my wife completed a three-month course to become a certified volunteer firefighter. The training easily involved 10-20 hours of additional work each week. It was a combination of bookwork (the text was over 1000 pages) and hands on drills (think hoisting ladders, tying various knots while wearing cumbersome gloves and controlling pressure filled water hoses). I am proud that she is choosing to serve our community in this way, but I am more impressed by the strength required to learn and master so many new skills.
Sadly, the use of the words pride and impress are both in decline over the last 150 years – but the decrease for impress is more precipitous.
Perhaps we grew weary of people superficially trying to impress us or jaded by the steady stream of things to be impressed by that we take them for granted. (How do you top walking on the moon?)
At the same time, when we are impressed a indelible mark is left. It changes how we will forever see that person and how we see ourselves.
The desire to leave a mark is a powerful one. Remarking on his new role as Pablo Picasso, Antonio Banderas said, “I still don’t think I have done the thing I will be remembered for.”
It makes you wonder, “Have I?”
There are so many opportunities to both be impressed and make an impression. Both require us to be open to new experiences, to dare to push our own limits and then persevere to reach them.
May your week be an impressive one.