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[personal profile] dogriver
Every so often, I read an article by someone who doesn't like to inspire people. The argument goes something like this: I am being me, so you are insulting me by being inspired by me just doing what I have to do.

This angers me deeply, very deeply, on a number of levels. First of all, how dare you tell me by whom I'm allowed to be inspired by? You haven't the right to tell me I'm not allowed to be inspired by you, it's not your place. I don't presume to be in a position to tell you whom you're allowed to be inspired by. If you want to be inspired by me, maybe I don't understand why, but that doesn't mean you're wrong in being inspired.

What you don't get, oh uninspirational one, is that one person's normal life is another person's inspiration. Who inspires you? Surely someone does. Are all the people who inspire you Nobel-prize winning scientists, dimplomats and changers of the fabric of humanity? I doubt it.

We're all inspired by people who have an effect on us. That effect can be very personal. When my dad died, I was inspired by the perfectly average people who, before me, had faced tremendous personal loss. Had they done anything special in the grand scheme of things? Not really, but they had done something which, at the time, I felt to be unimaginable, made it through a personal loss. Their ability to do so inspired me to be able to do so as well. I grew up being the only blind person around for miles. So when I learned that there were other blind people who faced the same things I did as a matter of course, you bet I was inspired by them. Knowing how many bline people are angered because they inspire, I'm glad I didn't say so to them.

To many sighted people, the idea of being blind is incomprehensible. Therefore, to them, seeing a blind person leading a normal life is inspiring. It doesn't show them that the impossible can be achieved, but it shoes them that something which to them seems to be impossible can be achieved. Who am I to deny them that? Who is anyone to deny helping, simply by doing what you do, someone else to be more than they felt they can be? Because, I promise you, someone has, somewhere along the line, inspired you the same way. You have, I promise you, been inspired by people who didn't set out to be inspiring, who may not understand why they inspired you, but, nevertheless, did inspire you.
Next time someone says you inspire them, please don't get angry at them. Be glad you've made a difference. Be grateful for the chance to help someone else just by being you. Lofe's too short to be angry because you've made a positive difference in someone's life. Maybe they expressed it in a way you didn't like, but ... really, does it matter? Is it worth getting upset about? What are the returns for getting upset about it, versus the returns of knowing that you have done your part in helping others along the way, and to do it, all you had to do was to be you and to be gracious about it?

And finally, whether you want me to be inspired by you or not isn't going to change anything. If I find you to be an inspiration, your getting angry at me isn't going to change anything, except maybe to make me think that, in addition to being inspiration, you're an arrogant jerk. So just accept it, and feel good about yourself. It's far more enjoyable to feel good about yourself than feeling angry at someone else because they appreciate you.


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Bruce Toews

August 2017

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