I am writing this for the November Disability Blog Carnival and the question posed relates to inspiration...
"Inspiration" and worse yet "inspirational" are annoying trigger words for me especially when used in the media. It always makes me feel that it is in some way belittling those of us who are not climbing Everest or running across Europe.
Many years ago, long before I had any inkling of myself as a person with a disability, I was doing some research into spinal cord injuries and I read and learned an enormous amount. In the course of these inquiries I came to meet two women with SCI's. One fit the complete definition of "Inspirational" she had quite a high level of injury and yet was an Olympic athlete. She juggled a high-powered career with public appearances and published writing. Yet when I spoke with her and interviewed her I found her comments a bit snarky, I might go so far as to say that she had tickets on herself and she made rather derogatory comments about the second woman I met. Comments to the effect of "If I had her level of injury I would be doing so much more than she is!" The second woman was gentle and kind. She was open about dealing with the breakup of her marriage, she worked in a capacity that enabled her to help others who were newly paralyzed. Her quiet determination to rebuild her life and her empathetic kindness touched me very deeply.
So who was inspiring?
NOT the achievement driven superstar, that's for sure!
Inspiration is a factor that is completely subjective. The media may well attempt to dictate to us who is and who is not inspirational but the fact of the matter is that nothing is inspirational unless it actually causes an effective change in the way of thinking or the actions of the person who is inspired... ergo one must be inspired to DO or to THINK something as a result of your contact with the source of inspiration.
I find that I am most inspired by those who quietly get on with their lives, who make the best of bad situations, who give what they have to give regardless of how much or how little it may be. These people are rarely found in two page spreads in magazines or in the "human interest" segments of "news" programs, some of them may never leave their bedrooms but they are reaching out and giving in the ways they can, with love and warmth and humour.
I am inspired by many of my blogging friends, their quiet determination, their humour in adversity - most especially those who continue to give to others and to agitate for our rights as disabled people and as humans while still battling with their own problems.
"Inspiration" - overworked, overused, inappropriately applied far too often, bandied about with abandon and yet... the underlying meaning is still so significant and important. I find the quiet dignity of ordinary people who are dealing gracefully with extraordinary difficulties to be my inspiration.