Friday, February 8, 2008

Finding inspiration in others

Sometimes I find inspiration and motivation from within... sometimes I find it in the words or actions of others.

Strange but true, one font of inspiration to me is YouTube... I turn there sometimes to see Jim Valvano's ESPY humanitarian award acceptance speech. When that impassioned directive fails to inspire me, I'll know that my heart has turned to stone. The last time I checked, Jimmy V still fires me up to be a better person. Take a peek:

No need to take notes... here's what he said:
"To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives.
Number 1 is laugh. You should laugh every day.
Number 2 is think. You should spend some time in thought.
And Number 3 is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy.

But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week; you're going to have something special."
-- Jimmy V.

Laughing and thinking daily come pretty naturally to me. Being moved to tears daily is another thing. The week last August that Maggie, my elderly golden retriever mix, came to the end of her long, well-loved life brought several days of my emotions being moved to tears... not all over the dog.

For several months Maggie had developed large unexplained lumps on both sides. By early 2007 they had grown to such cumbersome sizes she lost the flexibility necessary to clean herself. Canine arthritis added to her decrepit existence. It had become exponentially more difficult for her to get around.

Tuesday morning that week she couldn't walk by herself. I had to help her back into the house after her morning routine. However as I went through my morning routine, she seemed to recover enough that I felt comfortable going to work. Unfortunately when I returned, she had deteriorated again. Taking Maggie outside that evening revealed to me that I needed to make that final decision. One I had been deliberating for months. But when I saw that she couldn't stand to do her duty, I called Mom to share the terrible news. She called the veterinarian for me who left his granddaughter's birthday party to come to my house and "help Maggie out."

I sat with my Maggiepie on the grass under the tree in my front yard and the vet carefully explained the process and proceeded, always asking if I was ready for the next step. So her last moments were at home with me petting her and telling her I loved her.

Now I know I'm speaking of the life of a dog. But heartbreak is heartbreak no matter the cause -- there is no sliding scale for this pain. It's more like a road map. Some places are easier to navigate than others; easier to travel through. So this grief is like a small town that I've been to, know where it is, could find it if I had to, I might drive through on my way somewhere else, but I'm not living there. No plans to move there.

That same week, on Wednesday night I joined Mom for a walk after which, she and I stopped by a family friend's house. Tom's late wife Michele's birthday would have been that day. Michele died 20 months before of leukemia, which she fought twice before the cancer finally took her body. Revealing to me a new location on that road map of heartbreak. Tom lives on the outskirts of a major city in the geography of grief. That day stretched him again to the limits of his pain and he clearly was working hard to keep that city in sight without getting lost inside it. He spoke of how much he misses Michele. But he also shared the joy he finds in his new grandson, his adventures in re-entering the dating world as a 50-60-year-old. I wasn't looking for it that day, but found inspiration in the emotional journey of another person.

I've got my own road map, my own journey, joys, griefs and heartbreaks. Finding strength and inspiration in others gives me strength for my travels; inspires me to do well and expect more of myself.

Next stop... Austin, Texas for my first ever 1/2 marathon. Inspired by... Jimmy V, Tom, Michele, YOU!

1 comment:

  1. I've been writing on inspiration this week and it was nice seeing your perspective!