I’ve been thinking lately about inspiring people. I see them everywhere and realise they are found in places you least expect.
I was gravely ill late last year. Grace, generosity in a time of grief, and the skills of a highly-trained medical team have given me not just two new lungs, but new life. My wife has her husband back. My daughter has her daddy – one that will soon be able to race her on the beach, and dance with her when we’re watching Rage.
Through that journey, people have called me ‘inspirational’. While I’m honoured that my story has touched others, I was just walking the path laid out for me. I have been trying to survive and have done what I’ve needed to do. It’s what you do when the hand you’ve been dealt includes cystic fibrosis or any other life-shortening disease.
I’ve come to the realisation that it’s the viewer, not the viewed, who unearths the gold. It is easy to see the dirt in people – it is multi-layered and deep. To find the vein of gold, you have to dig; go below the surface. It takes time.
… it’s the viewer, not the viewed, who unearths the gold
I’m inspired by so many people. In particular, by people like the single mum who sails through a full-time job with a wild laugh and an uplifting attitude. She looks after the needs of not just her son and extended family, but the needs of all those around her. She’s proof that you don’t have to be related to know you are family. Ask her about it and she’d tell you she just does what anyone would do.
I’m inspired by my work colleagues who do ‘out of the box’ stuff. You can partner with someone in business for 20 years and still be in awe as you watch them step up to a new challenge. Ask him about it and he’d say he just did what needed to be done.
My doctor! To me a huge inspiration! She saved me from the brink of death. She decided I had to be listed for new lungs as a matter of high priority. When I told her she’d saved my life, she leant over, held my hand, and assured me, “that’s just what I do”.
That assuredness is what you want from your surgeon, right! It is what you want from the pilot as your plane comes into land; from police, firefighters and other first responders; from teachers and aid workers, artists and advocates, builders and… you get the picture: ordinary people doing extraordinary things because “that’s just what they do”.
Restoring, saving or improving sight is just what you do… “it’s just what you do”. In some countries, basic cataract surgery or prescription glasses – something we all take for granted – can be the difference between whether or not a child receives an education; whether or not a person has a livelihood. It is literally the difference between life and death.
Even in this country, with all its privilege, what you do can change someone’s life; can put the world right side up again. That, right there, is inspiring. Or is it just what you do? Maybe the two are one and the same. Inspiring people just do what they do. Perhaps that’s why they inspire us