How many remember that time in school, when the teacher asked you to write a paragraph on, “Who inspires you?” I’m sure many of you sat there pondering various people in history that fit the bill, someone that was brave, smart, or strong. You looked for that one person that excelled above the rest, against all odds.
Some might choose Winston Churchill, for example, for his fearlessness and determination in WWII or Mother Teresa for selfless devotion for serving the poor and destitute around the world. Others might claim their favorite is Albert Einstein for his contributions to science, or Warren Buffet for his investment skills.
Then there are those that look to heroes that inspire them to forge through tough times. They might consider Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, for his expert flying skills. His calmness under pressure enabled him to save the lives of all 155 people aboard a troubled passenger plane in the Hudson River. Others are encouraged by soldiers and emergency crews who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us. They might write about the brave men and women that rushed into the burning buildings on 9/11.
Jane Goodall said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Inspiring words themselves, but they also remind us that anyone can be an inspiration.
In the 1960 Summer Olympics, Abebe Bikila had a dilemma. The Olympic shoe sponsor provided shoes to the athletes, but only had a few pairs left, and none that were his size. He could have given up and not represented his country in the marathon, but he chose to run the race barefoot, the way he had trained. He went on to win the gold medal and became the first black African Olympic champion. He proved that it’s not the shoes, but the man inside the shoes, that possesses greatness.
That “who inspires you” question is often asked of me, as a writer. I could list many authors that motivate me. I think of creative people like William Shakespeare, Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein, Christopher Paolini, and Brandon Mull, just to name a few.
I also have to give a little inspirational credit to myself. I am not trying to sound haughty or proud. Much like Vincent van Gogh, when he said, “I dream my painting and I paint my dream,” my inspiration can come from within myself. I envision my stories in my mind and play them like mental movies. I plot them out and create my characters, then put them down on paper.
Now, I’m not a great leader, or brave fighter. I certainly am not a fast runner. In fact, I don’t like to run at all, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t be an inspiration to others, or find it within myself. Will one of my illustrations encourage someone to try painting? Will a young child read one of my books and change the way they view the world, by what I wrote? I hope so. We are all capable of greatness, if we only look inside ourselves.