On Sunday, I was reading the paper. A prominent person in our city had died over the past week, so the paper was brimming with inspiration. There were tales of significant achievements, emotional quotes, and heartfelt, passionate stories from loved ones and colleagues. Truly, most of our paper was an obituary.
In the actual obituary section sat, halfway down by the seam, Casey’s obituary: seven words. I couldn’t be more serious. There were only seven words, including her name and the months of her birth and death: so uninspiring.
This all made me think about inspiration. It was hard to avoid. I tried. I couldn’t help but wonder what inspires people. How do we inspire? The man who wrote the obituary was not her child, he is the executor of Casey’s will. Casey would probably be okay with it. What would the man’s mother think about his seven words?
How do we encourage our children to realize that the little things are important? How do we tell them that those little things that we do become bigger things? Is it enough to tell them that Michael Phelps practiced every day? There is more. It’s organic. Why do I find those seven words offensive? Why did the love of those other people for the person who died make me want to go do something good for the world?
I went outside to clear my head. Andrew was pulling the wagon up and down the street attached to the back of his bicycle. He had George in the wagon when I walked outside.
“Hey, how about giving your mother a ride?” I yelled after him. That would help, I thought.
“You’re too big,” he said matter-of-factly.
“No, I’m not. You can pull George and Gladys at a good speed and they weight 60 lbs together. You can pull me. Just try.”
“How much do you weigh?” I told him. He let me climb aboard. It became a physics lesson.
In a few seconds, I was being pulled down the sidewalk by my son’s bicycle. I cheered. I whooped and hollered. My brain was still on inspiration, emotional intelligence, and the instillation of creativity. I shook my head. Seven words? Really?
“Mom, I can’t pull you up the hill, you are going to have to get out.”
“Oh, right, sorry.” I got out and walked. I didn’t try to get back in after the hill. I was gone again in thought. My neighbor walked by and suggested that Andrew charge for rides. The next time he rode by, he told me he was now the Super-Power-Rocket-Shuttle charging a penny a pound. He rode on.
Then Gladys came running towards me, in her flip-flops.
“Honey, please don’t run in flip-flops. Go find your sneakers.” I said it absentmindedly. I’m not sure I even heard my own words.
“But, Mom, these are my flip flops. I’m so lucky to have them!”
I was trying to think. Now my brain was forced to listen to a three year old.
“What, honey?” I asked as sweetly as possible.
“Remember, when we were in the creek? Andrew SAVED these flip-flops. If he hadn’t run down and grabbed them for me, they would have left the creek and flowed into the river and then into the Great Lakes and then into the Niagara River and over the Niagara Falls!!”
I had told her that. I told her that standing in the creek that day. We had just been to Niagara Falls. It was all very true. She remembered that.
“Can you believe that, Mom? Can you believe that my flip-flop could have gone over Niagara Falls?” She made a big whooshing, crashing sound here. “Then it would be gone forEVER.”
They get it. Yes, they get it.
What inspires you?