Inspiration comes in all forms – from the phenomenal feat that leaves you awestruck to the small act of kindness that could still leave you wanting to change the world in your own way.
Throughout my life, I have encountered many kinds of people, not solely due to being a journalist and marketing person. But also just by being a friendly person, or as my stepdaughter would say, because of the invisible tattoo across my forehead which reads “Talk to Me.”
In journalism, each person I encountered had their own story to tell, whether it was about the hardship they were enduring at that moment, the loved one they had just lost, the challenges they had overcome or the simple life they were trying to lead.
What always interested me about being a reporter was that it gave me a kind of unwritten access into a person’s life because people would open up to me – a complete stranger – and tell me the most intimate details, welcome me into their homes, and even offer me hugs and kisses years later after writing a story about them.
As a journalist, people view you differently – some good, some bad and some downright horribly. But when you walk onto a crime scene, an accident scene, a fire scene, you become that person who is going to ‘tell the truth’ about what happened today, who that deceased person was or even how the public could simply help a family get back on their feet.
When I left journalism and went to the ‘dark side’ in marketing and PR, I found I still missed the personal interaction that came with being a reporter – the part where I would meet a different person every day and have a chance to tell their story.
For four years, I continued to write features stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things for a southern Illinois paper every Saturday. These stories helped keep my foot in the door as a reporter, but they also helped remind me about the good still in the world and the people who are still fighting to make sure it doesn’t fall through the cracks any time soon.
For example, some of small acts of extraordinary that I encountered that could make person want to change the world:
- An elderly woman with bags upon bags of baked cookies stored in her freezer in case an occasion should arise at the retirement community where she lived for new neighbors, birthdays, anniversaries or the passing of a loved one.
- The woman, who originally grew up in So. Illinois, decided to donate her kidney just because she was in good physical condition and the research showed she was a good candidate.
- The daycare provider, who after 30 years of caring and watching children, decided to retire, but not before adults who were once children she had watched came to the daycare with their own children to wish her good luck and good tidings and celebrate her future.
- The lifeguard trainer who had spent decades training young lifeguards with no thought of stopping. When asked what led him to even start doing this, he replied a friend’s drowning when he was a teenager years ago and no one was able to save him.
- The man who has spent so much time searching for his beloved lost dog, scouring Illinois country sides and rural animal shelters. This has led him to lead a crusade to change the laws in the way stray dogs are handled in rural counties.
- The office coordinator at a nonprofit who just couldn’t bring herself to retire after nearly 40 years because what if one of the children who were adopted from their organization over the years came back to find her one day and she wasn’t there to greet them with open arms.
Of course, inspiration comes in the large events too – the child genius who discovers a cure for cancer, the 21-year-old CEO who finds an energy efficient way to save people thousands, the 500-lb man who can now run and do cartwheels now after losing 300 pounds or the single mother of four who graduates from college.
But inspiration and how it affects each of us is different. An inspirational quote is just words on a piece of paper if it doesn’t ‘inspire’ you to act. And a motivational speaker isn’t a miracle worker because it would be impossible if he/she truly motivated all 100 – 1,000 – 10,000 people who they were speaking to at one time because not every one of those people is going to react the same way to their message and call to action. It’s all in how we process the actions and words we are receiving and how we choose to act on those in a way to affect the rest of our lives.
Inspiration is defined as: a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul. (Merriam-Webster)
Has your mind or soul been directly inspired lately? One would hope so because what would this world be like without inspiration, aspirations, dreams, ideals and a whole lot of imagination.