SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Monday, August 17, 2009

What is an inspiration?

I feel I have been tossed from an ocean into a fish tank. Trying to constrain big dreams, and attempting to transfer these dreams into the confines of a smaller playground. (It’s like asking me to play football inside the house!.)

Wherever I turn, I see a wall. You may say these are walls inside my mind. How true! And so I force myself to find inspiration, in people, in objects, and in minute things. Hoping that in the process of discovery, I will be inspired once again to challenge the world.

What is an inspiration?
A person, a book, an object, a thought, an event, or an experience?

Most commonly we find inspiration in a person. They are the ones we want to emulate. It may not be the entirety that we admire but a facet, some aspect that we aspire for. I have a few in my life. Sudha Murthy for one; simply practical, effective and immensely altruistic. As I read about her and her proactive work, I realize any inability is only in our minds.
My father is another. Psychology has a word for him: hardiness, which is an ability to take on any problem as a challenge. They are people who inspire themselves and others around them. (Unfortunately these are skills I seem to have not picked up from him!)
Where I worked briefly, Poonam.N, Usha.R and Rajul.P the triumvirate, were my inspiration. The Awesome Threesome is how I think of them! They inspired and changed my attitude towards life. It is not what they said; it is how they said it! They were great communicators, enthusiastic and unprejudiced. A rare breed indeed!
Another person who inspires me is my gardener! Hardworking, systematic, efficient and thorough, with great initiative. I can imagine if he had been educated, the corporate world would have another success story.
Many, many friends inspire me in how they have chosen to live their lives, and in their manner and conviction of thoughts.
As I write this, many such people cross my mind, from those mothers of special children I have seen, who dedicate their lives selflessly to their children, to the maid who aspires to give her daughter quality education so that she may do better for herself.

A book can inspire. In no particular order, I give you names of some of them; Roots, Life of Pi, Lord of the Rings, The Hungry Tide. I can name many more. Each book symbolizes creative thought. The inspiration, comes from the way the author has weaved the story, the creative storyline, the imagination and the imagery. I would rate this ability of man, to weave images with words, to visualize and narrate in spoken and written words, as one of the most significant achievements of human kind.

Technology has brought about cataclysmic changes. Yesterdays ideas are redundant today, and todays will become redundant tomorrow. But the spoken and written thought, verbal and visual word will remain forever, passed on from one generation to another to be read and re-read many times. We share ideas, thoughts, challenges and problems, using words. We counsel, advice, inspire, and educate using words. Even with the internet, this is one skill that man will only improve on, as without an ability to read and write, he cannot communicate, he cannot inspire effectively!

An inspiration can come from within or from without. The environment also plays such an important role. Watching the tiny dung beetle here roll it's ball of dung across my garden floor, watching the tiny mouse there caught in the trap, waiting for the right moment to escape, watching the resident peacock open his feathers at the same time every day to give us a beautiful display of his elegance. Every moment of life can be an inspiration, if we could only remember that and look for such moments.

An object, an event, or an experience can inspire us, so can;
An act of kindness, an act of mindfulness, an act of courage.
An act of compassion, an act of foresight, an act of sacrifice.
An ability to challenge oneself and others in your team, an act of wisdom.
An act of inspired singing, an act of creative expression.
An act of understanding and empathy, an act of pure innocent love.

Yet, what remains is for us to act on these inspirations. To extract meaning from these, and use it effectively to guide us on our way. To constantly search for such inspiration, in order to move from this level to the next.

Just as we find inspiration in an other, in all probability some one else is finding inspiration in us. So, as we go on living out the roles that we have chosen to, let us be mindful of those and that which inspires us, and also be aware of those who take inspiration from us.

( Thanks Divya and DP, whose
inputs helped me gain insights for this piece!!)