Inspiration … just the word itself might cause two internal reactions.
One: “Ah man, inspiration is so overrated. People talk about it all the stinking time. Yap, yap, yap … inspiration. Yeah, they don’t know how it is to walk through life with this face and body of mine and have people stare at me, make comments, or worse … having people in my own family shun me. Inspiration my butt. Take that inspiration and shove it.”
Two: “Inspiration is just what makes me feel better inside. It brings out the best in me and lets me stand up, be strong and move through life each day the best that I can do. Sure, I know I have limitations with my face and body … yet the limitations are (in some cases) what I put on myself. Not always. It helps to be an inspiration to others and feel inspired as much as possible.”
That’s two pretty stark contrasts when it comes to inspiration. Maybe exaggerated a bit, and I’m cool with that observation.
My point, though, is simply this. Just being YOU … as you are today, as you are reading this right now … are an inspiration. Even if you don’t even believe in inspiration, like it’s some hocus-pocus bullshit … that’s OK, too. Children, teenagers and young adults are always looking to peers for encouragement and inspiration. Sometimes, their craniofacial teams have therapists or social workers that can help support them through guidance, support and even a safe touch of love.
For some of us adults in the cleft lip/cleft palate/craniofacial community around the world, inspiration might have been found within a church, synagogue, mosque, nature or a trusted friend. Just a person who believed in us and loved us as we were without trying to change ourselves.
Inspiration can come through the sweet sounds of music. It can come through a wonderful book. Great works of literature have given men and women the strength to move through obstacles that have grown in their lives. Inspiration can be found in spiritual texts from the Holy Scriptures, the Torah, the Koran, and the Talmud. It can be found in poetry from writers like Khalil Gibran and Rumi to modern-day authors like Paolo Coelho and others.
Let me say this, too. For many people in this community, holy books have been used in harmful ways … to produce shame, guilt, fear and as a means to physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually abuse people. I am definitely NOT encouraging that type of behavior … just to be clear. These are just examples of where some people find inspiration.
What can be the greatest source of inspiration for one member of the cleft/craniofacial community to another? YOU! Yes, you … the one that’s going through the surgeries or the one that’s been through the surgeries, the doctor’s appointments, life’s triumphs and disappointments. YOU are the next man or woman up to take the stage of life and pave the way for others that come along in your footsteps.
YOU are an inspiration.
I am an inspiration.
We are all inspirations for one another … and, from my perspective, all of us have a little bit of light within us all to share with others. How bright or how dim that light is can pretty much be up to us and how we’re taking care of ourselves.
For the little kids and young children, just being themselves and allowing them to have the space to grow up as naturally as possible … that gives them safety and protection to be light.
For the young adults and teenagers trying to find their path in life, just figuring out what they want to do with their lives in this moment can be inspirational to others watching them from a distance.
For the adults in the 20-30-40 year old range, just staying healthy, getting the help you might need to figure out if this is the path of life to follow or is another one calling y0u … when people watch and observe you move through life with as much dignity and honor as possible, they are inspired.
For the older adults (OK friends, that mean’s 50 and up), did you ever consider that your journey can help others in the cleft/craniofacial community grow and become the women and men to support those that are still figuring out their path? YES!
So why are candles burning at the top of this blog post, you might ask. I choose to see light as a metaphor for inspiration. Candlelight, for centuries, has been symbolic of inspiration in times of solitude. Nature is pretty damned good, too, for inspiration. Look up into the skies … see mountains … breathe in fresh air … smell the sweet, cleansing aroma of rain … these touch our senses and even go deeper.
Be the best YOU that you can be today and every day. Trust me, people … YOU are an inspiration.
Every minute counts … and you are loved.