You're the Inspiration
Updated: Dec 30, 2020
When I was a resident assistant for my college dormitory, I had a bulletin board next to my room that I decorated with quotes and images I found inspiring. Things cut out from magazines or quotes I had read in books and saved. It was my original vision board of things to look at and read that made me feel better. I called it my "Inspiration Station". Some people laughed. Actually, a lot of people did. Who is going to read that? Who needs that more than a board that posts what activities are going on around campus? I justified keeping it there because I believed it mattered - to me, if no one else.
Over time, the board persisted, and evolved in ways I hadn't imagined. Pages artfully folded and faded from the fluorescent lights. Drunk students used Sharpie and wrote funny (well - crude) things on crazy Friday nights that I tried to hide but always reappeared. Quotes disappeared completely. I don't know who feels the need to steal words of wisdom, but ok. In December we closed up shop and left for the semester break. Upon returning a month later, the board had been completely torn down. The hired cleaning crew had been instructed to clear everything away so we could start the year fresh. I was devastated. I loved that board. There were things I posted on that board that could not be replaced. And now not only was the board gone but so was my desire to build it once again. So I decided to just leave it discouragingly and unattractively bare.
It took a few weeks but one evening, returning from the dining hall, I noticed that someone had posted something on my board. It wasn't an offensive note or crude drawing, or the latest nightclub promotion. It was a single handwritten message scrawled on a note just larger than a fortune from a fortune cookie:
You're the inspiration.
I don't know who put it up there. I wasn't sure if it was a tribute to REO Speedwagon or what. I tried to Sherlock Holmes that handwriting to no avail. Maybe someone thought I was inspiring. I am the inspiration? Probably not. More likely, someone missed the board as much as I did. And that simple act of putting up those words prompted others to do the same. A few days later the words to Imagine were posted. Someone thought they were very funny and included a photo of Monty Python. No judgment - I'm sure he has inspired many. And I, too, started posting things again. By the time finals week rolled around, that board was covered five times over. And as we packed up for the summer break, one student walked by as I was collecting the last pieces of the board and told me he really enjoyed seeing the board each day on his way to class.
The lesson I always take with me from that experience is to never forget the value of inspiring yourself and others. To never underestimate the power of very simple words and phrases and images. Allow yourself to find comfort in the words and wisdom of others. And to never stop looking for it, sharing it and enjoying it. And to go ahead and embrace the message: You ARE the inspiration. We all are. Our own, unique expression of things good and wonderful, powerful and true. Make it your goal to be inspired by something each and every day. Make it a goal to share what you have learned with one other person. Make it a goal to never forget that inspiration can't possibly run out because the more we look, the more we find, and the more we share, the more there is to enjoy.
Find the inspiration in whatever you do. Find it in the words you read and the people you speak to. Find inspiration in the routine, for that is what we have a whole lot of these days. And if you can't find anything to inspire you in your immediate environment, reach beyond it and find it there. There is no shortage of inspiration in our world, only a shortage of energy to see it.
Be the inspiration that you are looking for. Inspire yourself in whatever ways you can. Put up a board. Tack up things that make you smile or stand up a little prouder. And try your best to not deface it on a wild and crazy Friday night.