In 2007, an international body polled more than 100 million people to name their favorite, man-made monument from a list of 200 nominees. After all the votes were counted, these were named the winners—aka the “New 7 Wonders of the World.” I’ve visited four so far and hope to see the others soon. Until then, here’s a summary of each.
Once upon a time, I played adult fast-pitch baseball for several years in my late 20s. It was incredibly intimidating, since I played against several ex-major leaguers and college players. Some guys threw in the upper 80s, even, which is unnerving at best and scary as hell at worst!
Anyways, I started at right field, which baseball fans know is where you put the worst fielder. But I usually batted third, fourth, or fifth, which is where big hitters usually line up.
Only problem was, I wasn’t a big hitter. Why did my coach put me there?
Because I had one goal—get on base. What’s the easiest way to do that? Hit singles or walk. So that’s what I did.
I hit a lot of singles back then. Walked a lot too. I never swung for the fences and always made the pitcher work for three strikes, which is very hard hard to do at amateur levels, especially if the hitter isn’t swinging. So I only swung at strikes.
Halfway into the season, my teammate Russ pulled me aside and asked, “Have you looked at your online stats?”
“No,” I replied. As a rookie, I didn’t even know that was possible. “Well you’re leading the team in RBIs (runs batted in) and have an on-base percentage over 70%. NICE WORK!”
That praise and realization felt good. But it also reminded me of an important life lesson: thinking small often leads to big results. Since small ball is boring and unglamorous, however, not many people engage in it. Big ball, you see, gets most of the fame and attention.
Obviously, big ball works too. Maybe just as much, if not more, than small ball. But big ball is harder to pull off. It requires more skill and God-given talent. I’m often short on that.
So I in life, business, and baseball, I usually choose small ball.
PS—Small ball works in all aspects of life and sport, not just baseball. For example, Italy plays some of the smallest, most boring soccer you will ever see. But they are tied for second for most World Cups. Because small ball works.
I recently read Joe McGinniss’s excellent book about a minor league soccer team that did the impossible: qualify for the second highest professional league in the world, despite coming from a mountain town with only 5,000 people. The book is so heartfelt and devoted, you even see the author becoming unreliably impassioned through the course of the seasons as the book wears on, particularly at the bittersweet ending.
While reading it, I appreciated the race to the finish and cultural insights into Italian behavior and ways of thinking, which are dramatically different than Americans. I was emotionally torn at some parts but could not put it down. Basically the book is a culture clash that will give you pause, make you think, and cause you to laugh.
Here are some of my favorite passages:
They recognized history when it was made, even at their own expense, and they had waited for ninety long minutes, swelling their own disappointment, simply in order to pay tribute to the men from the mountains of the Abruzzo, who would never be considered little again.
The golden color of the abruzzese fall had begun advancing down the mountain’s flank like an army, each day driving back a few meters farther the doomed green forces that had ruled all summer long.
I’d long been of the view that only people in positions of power from which they cannot be easily unseated — they, and the mentally deranged — will talk for half an hour or more when it is obvious to everyone except themselves that no one is listening.
It is remarkable, really, how much specific information can be conveyed through even the most impermeable of language barriers if the conveyor truly wishes to do so and has the patience and resourcefulness to keep trying, no matter how obtuse the listener might seem.
After all the votes where counted, only The Colosseum (Italy), Machu Picchu (Peru), Chichen Itza (Mexico), Christ The Redeemer (Brazil), Petra (Jordan), Taj Mahal (India), and The Great Wall (China) were left standing. As the only survivor of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World,” the Pyramids of Giza (Egypt) were granted honorary status.
Because I like lists, glowing recommendations from large samples, and travel, I’d like to visit all someday. So far, I’ve experienced Machu Picchu and The Colosseum and think they exceed expectations. My friend James has visited six of eight and dubs Machu Picchu his favorite.
Readers—have you visited any of the seven wonders? Have a favorite? Where would you start?
Dumfounded by the beauty of the surrounding Italian Alps
I just returned from a 10 day, 85 mile, three country hike around Mont Blanc. I’ll publish a full report of the epic G Adventures expedition to my column next month. Until then, I hope you enjoy these photos I took: Continue reading…