When we’re children, it seems, we are often asked to talk or write about our heroes. I can remember writing about my Mother as a role model, and I can remember writing about Golda Meir as a symbol of a powerful woman. In High School I found Maya Angelou, and she became a huge source of inspiration for me.
Young people are supposed to be seeking inspiration, I guess.
Or inspiration is supposed to find young people and bathe them in its golden glow. I don’t know.
I wonder why we stop looking for role models when we get older?
I know that once I hit the ripe old age of 30 and had some kids to raise, I sort of just settled into myself and I lost some of that early self-reflection.
Now, though, I am once again at one of life’s crossroads. No longer an active Mommy, no longer looking for the next step in my profession. Generally content with my middle aged self. But still looking to grow!
So I have looked around me and wondered. Who is it in my life that I would like to emulate? Somewhat surprisingly (to me!) there are a whole bunch of people I can look to!
And here is my little “homage” to some of those who inspire me.
First off would be my son Matt. At 22 years old, he hasn’t really lived all that long, and hasn’t had a whole lot of life experiences. Here is what inspires me about him: He is probably the only person I know who has a truly open and non-judgmental mind. He is politically and socially very progressive, and leans quite far to the left. But he is able to somehow accept the fact that “everyone thinks they’re right.” He is able to listen, to weigh opinions, and (here is what I can only hope to emulate:) he doesn’t get mad. He learned this trick as a kid, when he figured out that if he just stayed calm when I was fussing at him, and didn’t argue back, the whole storm would blow over much more quickly. I keep him in mind a lot when I read or talk politics.
Second would be my friend Wendy. I have known Wendy since we were in our earliest days of our marriages, back when our husbands became work friends. We’ve stayed friends through almost 30 years of working motherhood, education reform (she’s a retired teacher) and emptying nests.
Wendy is 5 years older than I am, and here is why she inspires me.
She actively looks for fun and then she goes and gets it. And she has mastered the art of finding joy in the truly little things! Now that she is retired, and has free time, she has done a lot of the usual things to stay active and engaged: church, gardening, friends, travel.
But last weekend we were together for a few days, and Wendy and I were in the kitchen getting out snacks before dinner. She was chatting and laughing, as always, and I asked if she wanted a glass of wine. She said something that I just loved. She said that everyone in her family, including her now grown kids, is always talking about different beers. She had never been a beer drinker, she informed me, so she had decided to try out a variety of beers. “I’m going to have Sam Adams Oktoberfest!”
What inspired me was her excitement. She was really, truly delighted with the idea of beer! In her early 60’s, instead of sticking to the safe and known, my friend is embracing all of the little untried pleasures she can find, and having the time of her life while doing it.
Now, THAT is inspirational.