What Inspires You?

by Simon Goland, May 2, 2013

A student of mine recently posted a question to the group, curious about our sources of inspiration. An interesting theme that was, and still is, with me. Won’t let go. Which means, a good candidate for a deeper exploration. So, with no particular order or preference, here is what has been coming to mind since the question was posted first.

“The greatest wisdom is in simplicity. Love, respect, tolerance, sharing, gratitude, forgiveness. It’s not complex or elaborate. The real knowledge is free. It’s encoded in your DNA. All you need is within you. Great teachers have said that from the beginning. Find your heart, and you will find your way.” ― Carlos Barrios, Mayan elder and Ajq’ij of the Eagle Clan

I remember listening to a speaker at a conference, a long time ago. He was a fascinating young man, talking about his life with cerebral palsy. Among the many things he has been doing by then, one of them was being a public speaker. In this particular talk, he talked about the need to overcome the resistance of his body, for almost everything – like putting his shirt on in the morning. The timing of his talk was perfect for me, as I was at a bit of a plateau, looking for ways to engage my body into some kind of a challenge. Pretty much right there and then, I got inspired to run the Vancouver marathon. It was a strange decision in the moment for me, given I really didn’t – and still don’t – like running. At least, not since my time in the Israeli army.

Yet, I was inspired by his talk. By him. And I trained, sort of, for about 6 months, and ran the International Vancouver Marathon in May of 2000. In fact, I ran two marathons in that one day. My first and my last. All because of that young man and the way his talk touched something deep within me.

When looking at the meaning and origin of the word – in-spi-ration – there is a mixture of breathing in, receiving stimulating influence upon the intellect and emotions, and also divine influence. Perhaps this is what inspiration is, when we breathe in this rich and potent elixir, both human and divine, that acts its magic on our mind and heart and spirit. Something happens to us then, whether in thought or in action. We open up to and experience something bigger and beyond ourselves. We harness our focus, energy, and heart towards a calling, a whisper, an idea, or an emotion that guides us to a place we may have not visited before. Maybe we even run a marathon.

“We are free up to the point of choice. Then the choice controls the chooser.” – Mary Crowley

I get really inspired when I witness people grow, evolve and shift in their awareness (or “level of consciousness” if you will). Whether it is through the work I do, or through the work of many others, it is incredibly inspiring for me to see a person get that a-ha, that insight, that moment of awareness of something they have not seen and known before. When they do, and start showing up differently in their life, it is precious to witness. It does not have to be all nice and rosy in the moment, though; the same thing happens when a person has been courageously staring pain and fear in the eye, and got to see (perhaps eventually) what was it all for. Moving. Touching. Inspiring.

I get inspired by storytellers who are able to weave a vivid story of something that touches me deeply. Stories of the “human kind” I call them, and Stuart McLean of the Vinyl Café is a master at this art. Similarly, by movies of the same kind – ones that tell a vivid and rich story about people. Some of the immediate names that come to mind are “Smoke,” “7 Pounds,” or most of the European cinema – primarily Russian (more of the older and less of the recent stuff), French, Eastern Europe, or Pedro Almodovar. Not much Hollywood there, with a few exceptions.

Pretty much anything that has to do with dogs, has that way of touching me deeply.

The primal beauty of Nature. Watching the waves breaking on a rocky shore, being beside massively majestic and timeless mountains, or being in a harsh and unforgiving desert (like the recent time in Petra, Jordan), definitely bring that particular inspiration and awe feeling for me.

Somehow, I don’t think I covered everything, for there is a lot more. Yet, I shall stop here, because I have an invitation for you, the reader. The invitation is a bit of a crazy thought, and an experiment of sorts. I wonder what would happen if we all start sharing one little story or an aspect of what inspires us. Choose your favourite social media platform, an email, pen and paper, or a courier pigeon. I wonder what would happen if we all were to start a wave of stories and moments and situations that inspire us, to see how far and wide this wave can spread, and the ripple effects it can create.