Have you ever participated in one of those feel good groups where everyone goes around at the end and shares a word that summarizes how they are feeling post discussion? Well I have joined plenty of these “inspirational” endeavors, and along with the rest of herd, come up with my word, which is often a somewhat forced and made up last minute under pressure declaration, than it is truly a summary of what my experience was. I often feel like the outcast during “circle time,” you know exactly what I’m talking about, the tone is set, the mood is intense, the purpose is clear, which is to state the profound impact this has had on you. While it is true that often I have learned a thing or two and maybe even had an aha moment, I am rarely the girl in the circle with tears rolling down expressing how awe-inspiring this workshop was… it’s just not in my makeup. Nor do I feign interest very well as the rest of the group shares their oohs and awes….
Inspire has always been a word that I have coveted, quite literally. I connect with the word and what it implies and how I feel it compels me to be and do. In much of my education experience however I came to somewhat despise that word, feeling like it was overused, misunderstood and even abused! So I cut it out of my vocabulary for a while, to make a statement… kind of like love… “I love chocolate,” “I love grapes,” “I love puppies,” “I love this book,” “don’t you love this blouse?” These are the phrases that make me sick to my stomach when I hear them tossed around so lightly and without true intension.
To inspire, is to elicit movement, to arouse passion, to stimulate drive, to encourage, to challenge, to stir one to be more than what they are at present. So when some self-help junkie uses it to disclose how she felt during circle time, I find it somewhat offensive. The truth of the matter is that to be truly inspired is a personal experience, and not one that someone else needs to understand… therefore I would like to try to withhold judgment, however I stand by my belief that this notion should not be taken lightly. We all seek inspiration in unique ways and what speaks to one is different than another. The main objective here is to seek out a way to be not only inspired in theory, but also in action.
This morning I was at the gym working out on the rolling staircase, my nemesis and best friend rolled into one. I was reading my current autobiography by Susannah Cahalan, entitled Brain on Fire, as I have most days for the past few weeks… only this time I found myself feeling, wait for it; inspired. I won’t ruin the book for anyone who wants to read it themselves, but I will say that what this girl went through and how she came out the other side of her experience is nothing short of awe-inspiring. The kind of inspiring that elicits movement and arouses passion and stimulates drive and challenges one to hold on, fight hard, and transcend pretty much anything.
To be quite blunt and share my genuine interest, the point here is to challenge you to seek out something to be inspired by. If you find yourself without inspiration at present, then start searching, and keep searching until you bump into it, or create it yourself. Sometimes inspiration involves digging deep within yourself and whole-heartedly recognizing the strength you had within all along and how awe-inspiring that can be all on its own. Sometimes we have to reach out, claw, scrape, scratch, dig, juggle, and fumble… because sometimes you have to fall before you reach up or reach out. And “sometimes, just when we need them, life wraps metaphors up in little bows for us. When you think all is lost, the things you need the most return unexpectedly.” (Cahalan, 2012) Sometimes you have to realize you’re lacking motivation or disconnected from your purpose before you find something you value holding onto or are passionate about.
The notion that life will be simple, uncomplicated or filled with happiness without blemish or doubt is complete and utter bullshit- pardon my exuberance, but it is true! It simply does not exist, not for long anyway. At some point, the tide changes, the wind shifts, the sun goes behind a cloud, the thunder rolls and even the ground beneath your feet crumbles away and it’s in that moment, that you realize your own capacity to dig deep and power through, or fold and give up. In those moments is when we need inspiration most. Something to give us hope that we’ll come out the other side, at some point, even if it’s not today or tomorrow and even if we don’t know when.
Hope can keep us hanging on a lot longer than any one of us think, but we don’t even have the chance to know that if we haven’t experienced a period of time, even a day or an hour, where we weren’t certain of the outcome, or felt we weren’t in control.
So today, I’m challenging all of us to look within and look around… find something that inspires you, even if it’s just for this moment, and relish in it. I’ll end with one of my very favorite quotes from Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”