Last week I watched a special episode of “20/20 with Diane Sawyer”. The entire episode was centered on the marvel that is Malala Yousafzai. If you don’t know the name you’ve been in a coma – at 16 she is the youngest person to ever have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She’s the young woman who, because of her vocal protests against the Taliban ban on educating women in her native Pakistan, was shot in the head by a Taliban assassin on a school bus ride last year. She has made a remarkable recovery and is once again challenging views in the Middle East and the world regarding women’s roles and education. Most astoundingly is that she doesn’t seek revenge or reprisals or even “justice” against the Taliban and it’s assassins, but instead looks to her beliefs to find forgiveness and a determined sense of purpose. This young woman’s strength, faith and grace inspire me. I can’t help but shake my head in self-deprecation when comparing my life difficulties and hers.
I have been thinking about Malala since seeing the program and contemplating the nature of inspiration. What exactly is inspiration? What it should not be, like the thought that I should exercise more, is something that will melt away if I have a glass of wine and lay down. I have concluded that inspiration is change. It seems that simple. Being inspired means being somehow changed internally by some external thing.
Too frequently though, we let the things that inspire us in the moment, slip away. Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable, no matter what it is. By viewing a great work of art, we may be inspired to paint but when it comes to actually putting brush to canvas, we don’t follow through, because it’s easier not to. It is easier and safer just to go lay down until the feeling passes. We have to fight with the contents of our day-to-day lives to keep our inspiration and remain inspired. Perhaps it’s that we’re afraid that whatever we’re inspired to do or be, somehow won’t be good enough.
Here’s a thought…what would happen if we consciously held steadfast to our inspiration with both hands? What in our lives would change if we allowed ourselves to be continually inspired – to NOT reject inspiration out of a lack of time or fear of discomfort? Furthermore, whom might we inspire in turn? How many good deeds, or inventions or great works of art were inspired by previous deeds and inventions and other works of art? It seems to me that inspiration is much like the biblical “begets” in that one act will beget another kindness, which will beget another inspiration, and so on.
I am inspired by Malala’s story. I am inspired to impress upon my young daughter that while America may have it’s issues, she can get as much education as she wants (and can pay for) and no one will stop her. I am inspired by the horror that Malala overcame to make sure every day my daughter knows that regardless of her sex, she is valuable as a human being. I am inspired by Malala’s calm, steadfast grace and so I am resolved to be calmer and kinder in my dealings with others.
Mostly though, I am profoundly inspired by the power of this young woman’s voice, by her ability to communicate. The world is a greater place because this girl exits. Because of this one voice, I am forever changed.
‘Till next time.
LB Adams is the Owner of Pragmatic Dramatics based out of Charleston SC. Her company uses basic acting techniques and theatre games to train business professionals to communicate more effectively.
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