The term inspirational is thrown around a lot. So much so that the meaning of it gets lost in the shuffle. In a world filled with so much negativity and hate, people cling to these rays of light that peek through the darkness. The whole concept raises some questions for me...
Why does it often take a tragic situation or a life altering event for people to come out of the woodwork and support one another so openly? It's a shame that we miss these special people when their stories were just "average". That we don't open our eyes to the remarkable until the end instead of the beginning. This makes me sad.
What makes something inspirational? I'll use myself as an example. I've been called inspirational more times than I can count, particularly in the last year because of some of the things I've been graciously asked to participate in. I can't imagine how people with a much broader audience than I have deal with this admiration because I feel like the amount of admiration that I've been getting has been so overwhelming and undeserved. There are so many other people more deserving of your praise. Believe me, I'm humbled and thankful for it because I'd rather have people love me than hate me, but I've got news for you: I'm just a regular guy living my life one day at a time. I do what I do because I enjoy it and it gives me purpose. Does that make me inspirational? I don't think so. I do my best to be a good person. Isn't that how everyone should be? I feel guilty because I wish I could do a better job for myself and for others. I know inspiration is a subjective thing and perhaps I have self esteem issues, but that's how I feel.
Finally, why is admiration so black and white? Shouldn't praise transcend our differences? What about those who deserve praise that never get it? For instance:
I'm inspired by those that risk their lives to help others: soldiers, police officers, firefighters, etc...They have my utmost respect.
I'm inspired by people who go outside their comfort zone. The ones take the moment to listen. Ignorance comes from fear. The moment people figure out how to understand one another on a respectful level, then the world will be a better place. People don't have to agree, but they should at least attempt to put themselves in someone else's shoes. Be good to one another and respect each others right to exist without persecution.
I'm inspired by those that sacrifice certain things in their life so their loved ones can be happy. They go without because they want to, not just because they have to.
I'm inspired by people who are well off, but share their success with others. I'm not just talking about money either. I'm talking about their time, their possessions, their blueprint for success, and their connections so that others can reach their own goals.
I'm inspired by the eight year old boy who used his Make-a-Wish to give food to the food shelter for no other reason than "just to be nice."
I'm inspired by a woman who forgave the young man that killed her son. Together this mother and and this young man share their story with others to help those who've lost someone through violence. They are stronger than I will ever be. Forgiveness is a noble gesture and love is even greater.
I'm inspired by people who do good things anonymously and with great love. It's a truly awesome person that gives to others without the need for recognition or praise.
I'm inspired by my grandmother who walks on the treadmill - bad knees and all - in her 80's. She doesn't have to. She wants to because she wants to be here for herself and her family.
Sometimes the crosses we bear aren't visible to the naked eye. I'm inspired by the people who get up every morning whether they have the mental and physical strength to or not. I love each of you...even the ones I don't know.
I'm inspired by my friends and family. Without them I am nothing.
I'm inspired by my wife who loves me and reminds me to be Josh and not just "CF Josh", because that is the man she fell in love with. I love you too, my sweet wife. (She just threw up in her mouth a little bit as she read this. :-) )
But ultimately, I believe deep down that we have to inspire ourselves. If you don't like the person you see in the mirror, it's up to you to make those changes so you do like what you see. No one is going to do it for you. Change what you are able to and do the best you can with what you can't. I try to live that way every day of my life. I don't always succeed, but damn it, I try. You know why? Because dreams are worth having and goals are worth the effort.
INSPIRE YOURSELF. You'll be glad you did.