By Joe Rector
Inspiration is defined as “the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.” Most of us acknowledge its effects on our feelings, but we also recognize inspiration during those “AH HA” moments. What’s wonderful is inspiration can come from so many different areas.
Many of us find inspiration from celebrities. Sometimes actors or actresses put their support behind a project, and in doing so, they inspire others to join in. Recently, local hero Peyton Manning donated half a million dollars to the Pat Summitt Foundation fighting Alzheimer’s. Those of us who have always idolized the former quarterback are more likely to pour money into this foundation because of his act and because the person for whom the organization is named is also an icon around here.
Children often find inspiration in the athletes whom they watch. All it takes is an outstanding performance on the field or court, and a young person will be off in a minute to practice the moves his hero displayed in the latest game. When I was a boy, Pete Rose was my inspiration. “Charlie Hustle” outworked most ball players, many of whom had superior athletic ability. Rose made up for his shortcomings by playing all-out. No, I never emulated his play on the field, but he so inspired me that I tried to instill that same work ethic in players I coached through the years.
Even the seasons offer inspiration. Yes, I love Christmas time, but spring and summer strike perfect chords with me. Waking up on a spring morning, I lie still and listen to a chorus of birds chirping as they build nests and tend to their young. Summer and its warm weather call me from the bed and into the yard to mow or to the golf course to play a round and enjoy the early morning sun.
In my lifetime, inspiration has been sparked by some wonderful ministers. The first man was Bill Menees, a Methodist minister who served a church where I attended college. Another person is Bob Landry. A Disciples of Christ minister, his sermons were like beautiful prose that painted pictures that forever have remained vivid in my mind. Doug Meister also inspired me. One of the two best friends in my life, he and I talked about and debated theology, and because of his patient and knowledge, I developed a stronger faith. Now, Catherine Nance, minister at Beaver Ridge Methodist Church, inspires me. I never leave a service without her words having moved me and given me the desire to “do better.”
Like most folks, my inspiration most often has come from family. In the case of my parents, it wasn’t until I became an adult that I understood just how much their actions had guided what I wanted to accomplish. They valued education, even though Daddy didn’t have much, and that inspired me to earn a college degree, as well as my brothers and our wives have. It also reached to our children who have completed their schooling and hold degrees.
My wonderful wife has inspired me for nearly forty years. Her kindness, intelligence, and wisdom have given me the strength to take risks and pursue such loves as the one I have for writing. Amy has also inspired me to work hard so that we can give a portion of our earnings to things important to our lives. Most of all, she’s accepted me, warts and all, and that goads me to be as open in my dealings with all others.
Even me children and grandson inspire me. Their love of life and balanced approach to it have caused me to re-evaluate long held beliefs to the point that I now see that many things aren’t so important after all. Their smiles and laughter and love make me want to spend more time with them than I have in the past and to get to know them as individuals, not just my “young-uns.”
An inspired life is one lived to its fullest. It’s important that each of us find it in our work, relationships, or our faith. Without inspiration, living is little more than marking the minutes until we cease to exist. Maybe we should work to be that inspiring force in another’s life. It would be a great accomplishment.