“Life is a garden, dig it.” -Joe Dirt
Ever notice when you go to the store seeking a specific item that you really NEED TODAY, you can NEVER find it. At the very least, it becomes an impossible endeavor. You end up having to go to three or four stores, cashing in a life-line, phoning a friend, or dipping into your child’s college fund just to pay for it. Doesn’t it seem like an immense amount of time and energy is always wasted in the process?
Exhausted and broke after such an ordeal, when I do finally obtain the golden item I rarely feel joy or pride. On the other hand, when I go to the store and I am not looking for anything specific, or I don’t have the money to spend, I always seem to find a myriad of items that I love, need, or just plain want to have. When I just happen upon an amazing item by chance, serendipity if you will, even the smallest of trinkets can leave me feeling like the champion of a jousting tournament riding my beautiful black steed off into the sunset.
The point is, when I am searching for a specific item with the end goal in mind and completely wearing blinders, it can be so hard to find–often unattainable. When I have a desired outcome or (ew, yes, the E word) EXPECTATIONS; I always seem to fall short of the mark. If I am looking towards the end with tunnel vision, sitting on the train, focusing down the road, waiting for the next stop; I miss all the amazing scenery and activity going on around me. I walk blindly by that superior find, or whiz past the garage sale-of-a-lifetime without even seeing it shimmer in my rear view mirror.
According to Webster’s dictionary, inspiration is: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something. Lately, I have been searching for inspiration.
Inspiration and motivation have been eluding me like the last line to a perfect song. I have been searching for them like that much needed item that is hidden from my grasp. I have been missing them because I have been focusing on the next stop, staring at the back of the conductor’s head rather than talking to the person sitting right next to me. I have been looking out the window watching everyone enjoying life wondering why I didn’t get the memo. I haven’t been willing to enjoy the ride because I just want to be at my desired destination. Plus, I really thought I would get picked up by a shiny black limousine and whisked off in all manners of fashion and beauty, but this time I gotta make the trip in an old beat-up Buick with no air conditioning and a small oil leak.
Why is this? Sometimes it takes a little pain, or a quick stab to the juggler, to get my attention. Circumstances that are so apparently clear to me when looking at others’ lives are often covered with mud or buried in sand when I am looking at myself. Granted, I have been making some rather big changes in my life lately. Some that were thrust upon me and some that I have been wanting to make for some time now. This is never easy, but it is also only as hard as we make it. Sometimes, I tend to make things really hard. Not intentionally (of course), it is just that it takes what it takes usually before any of us are ready to face the truth, battle a demon, give up that comfy snuggie, or our favorite old band t-shirt with the holes in it. Often we have to fall face first into rock bottom and get a little gravel between our teeth before we are willing to start the climb upward.
So, how do we find inspiration, the motivation to face a major change, pick the gravel out of our teeth, and/or rise above our current mode of transportation? Simple. Stop trying.
I was trying so hard to be on the other side of these changes that I was forgetting to accept the process. I was wanting to leave out specific portions of the journey because the ride was rough and the road had a few potholes in it. It doesn’t work that way. We have to be willing to ride the bumpy road, so that when we come to the smooth, newly oiled portion we can appreciate it’s strength and beauty. I had to stop focusing on where I wanted to be and accept where I am at currently.
I had to stop demanding that specific item be found today and slow down to see that there is a wealth of inspiration surrounding me constantly if I am willing to see it. Inspiration can be found in the smallest of items. That old Buick has its own brand of charm that no limousine ride could ever top. Sometimes you just have to sit back and be inspired even if it is not what you wanted or how you expected it to be. I had to find a way to be grateful for the Buick and realize its true value. After all, I could still be pulling a wagon around without any mechanical ingenuity at all. Inspiration is abundant. It is lurking in some of the most unsuspecting places. Sometimes we just have to be willing to dig through the mud and be open to seeing it. I had to allow inspiration to come in whatever form it chose to be. I had to let go of my expectations of myself and the traveling process. I had to see beyond my tunnel vision.
Therefore, finding inspiration is simple. Stop trying, stop looking, and just notice that it is all around you patiently waiting for you to pick it up and exclaim. “Thank you! I’m sorry I didn’t notice you before. You are amazing, and I am grateful.”
None of this is to say that I have given up on my destination, or on the goal of arriving in style with pretty white clean teeth. I have just realized that I don’t have to fight or claw my way to the top. I need to enjoy the journey even if it is very different than the way I had envisioned it. I will arrive in style, and I will be on time, just as I am supposed to be if I am wise enough to see all of the inspiration available to me at any given moment. Its there. You just have to open to receive it.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” –Maya Angelou
Heather Hymas has been a teacher in one form or another for the past 14 years. She has taught fourth grade, intermediate school, and college English, both at Dixie State University and Southern Utah University. She currently works as a teacher in a residential treatment center for troubled youth. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a master’s degree in education, and is currently working on her doctorate. She lives in St. George with her teenage daughter.