16 July 2010

Friday Top 5

Someone recently gave me an "inspirational" book. It was a very well-meant gesture, but let's be real: I'm a Gen-Xer. Cynicism is my middle name.  "Inspirational" stuff usually makes me want to mock it.  Relentlessly.  Until it cries and runs home to its mommy.

So I got thinking - what really does inspire me (since it's obviously not faux-heart warming "Chicken Soup for the Soul" BS)?
  1. People with the courage of their convictions, no matter what it costs them (Nelson Mandela, Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King). Bonus points for maintaining your dignity while refusing to back down and taking the consequences without whining.
  2. The people of New Orleans post-Katrina. A great American city is still struggling to get off its knees with very little help from anyone else, and they're insisting on remaining true to themselves and their culture while doing it.
  3. Endurance athletes. And (no offense) I don't mean charity "racers" who walk most of a marathon course and drag across the finish line in 6+ hours.  I mean people who take it seriously.  Not many things make me cry, but watching the finish of an Ironman always does.
  4. Artists who can fight their demons long enough to create something immortal, even if they eventually lose (Virginia Wolfe, Sylvia Plath, Wolfgang Mozart, Vincent Van Gogh).
  5. The everyday people who do the right thing when no one is watching, who help people and don't need anyone to give them a book deal, who consciously work to make the world a better place in their small and large actions without needing TV cameras to record it - every person who gives an anonymous donation, who picks up the trash on their street, who helps a stranger without ever giving their name or asking for anything in return.
OK, so maybe I got a little schmoopy on that last one there.  When you're feeling cynical and bleak about the state of your fellow humans, where do you turn to turn it around?

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