I attended a conference in July where Dr. Mike Perko talked about inspiration. He talked about how other people can inspire us, and how we can inspire others through volunteering. Inspiration can help us to accomplish more than we ever dreamed possible.
One of the inspiring people Dr. Perko talked about was Oscar Pistoruis, from South Africa—the fastest man without legs. You may remember Oscar from the Olympics. Oscar ran the 400 meter semi-final race amid some controversy as to whether his carbon fiber blades gave him an advantage. He finished last, but was by no means a loser. He inspired people all over the world and more important than where he finished in the race was that he ran the race.
In church this morning, I learned that the origin of the word inspire means to breath in. Inspiration is literally the breath of life. Inspiration is what makes us more than our physical beings. When we are inspired, we change how we think and even how we feel about ourselves.
How less meaningful would life be without inspiration? Without inspiration, we would go through life without inhaling that sense of awe and wonder that boosts our spirits and gives us a feeling of balance with the world around us.
It doesn’t take fame or fortune to inspire others. One of my inspirations is my niece, Angie, who is battling cancer. Angie says that cancer gave her clarity. Things that once seemed important have been replaced with those that really are important—family and love. Angie posted on Facebook that her hair had started coming out in clumps, so with the help of her best friend and her husband, clippers, and a lot of sobbing, the hair came off. She said it would probably be awhile before she allowed any pictures to be posted. Two days later Angie posted a picture where she is wearing her beautiful smile and proudly sporting her new ’do. Today she posted a picture of her and her best friend, who shaved her own head too, with the caption, “Baldies stick together.” When someone faces adversity with a smile and a lust for life, it inspires others.
We find the purpose of our lives from the events that drop us to our knees, the times that touch our hearts and our souls. Jim’s dementia was that defining moment in my life when I felt a call to action and became an Alzheimer’s volunteer. It wasn’t long before I realized that my volunteer work helped me as much as it did anyone else.
Research shows that volunteering can be good for your health, attitude, and feelings of self worth. Volunteers are less depressed and healthier than people who do not volunteer. Older adults who volunteer for about two hours a week have additional benefits of higher function levels and increased longevity.
When you think about it, volunteering helps get your mind off yourself and increases your awareness of the more important aspects of life. Or as Angie would say, “Clarity.”
Most of us aren’t in a position to change the world. What we can do is work on our little corner of the world to make it a better place. We can inhale breath from those who inspire us and exhale breath to help pass that inspiration on to those we care about, those we love.
Copyright © October 2012 by L. S. Fisher