Inspiration of Life: A Journey

Side-note: I realize I put up only 2 entries in last 2 months. I have not run out of ideas, but I simply have not been able to get more entries up. I had another entry in place of this finished 2 weeks ago, but when I was editing it, I realized it was a bit out of character. I was talking too much about myself, my social awkwardness, and armchair psychology reasons behind it — I had a sensible point to it all, but it was stuff I felt not to get into here. The goal of this blog is not to depress people but to inspire people to think big so best to steer clear of my issues. Last time, I wrote about hope. Today, it is about the power of inspiration. Dream will be next.

Inspiration. We all seek it in life and need it each day to drive us to the next. Without it, we have nothing to live for or to look forward to. We all look for inspiration in life, but we often cannot quite tell what it is that we’re looking for. What do you want in life? What sort of meaning do you want your life to have? Inspiration is very much an internal thirst. A person inspired is truly dangerous (could be dangerous in positive or negative manner) because he/she will fight to the end for his/her cause, good or bad.

I have been thinking what can I write about that single word. I thought about it much and reflected on it. What can I say that would inspire? I have talked about many of the things I find inspiring, but we are all inspired by different things. There is no one single idea that would inspire everybody. Or is there?


Photo by Ian Southwell / CC BY

I believe there is one thing that does or should inspire everybody. That one thing is life itself and the challenges we overcome in life. While our obstacles and their magnitudes may differ, we all face them. We all share this story of life, of survival. Before I get into this primal instinct of survival, I want to talk about life.

“What good amid these, O me, O life?”

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?
-Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

If you are searching for meaning in life and inspiration, you truly don’t need elaborate stories or eloquent tales to give you meaning but simply look around you. One must look, listen, feel, think, dream, and imagine. Focus on the world, the self, the people, the life, the cosmos.

Listen intently to the birds singing during the day or the crickets chirping during the night. Listen to the clock ticking away your most priceless possession – time. Look at the colors of the sky, the greenery, the speckles of color on the skins of other living things. Feel the breeze of the wind blowing soothingly or harshly depending on the differences in air pressure. As summer nears, watch the wild baby rabbits and squirrels chase each other around the yard. Watch the multicolored birds soaring the skies. Watch the seeds of life sprout out cool flowers and trees provide home for various animals and plants. Oxygen in the atmosphere along with methane is a tell-tale sign that life exists on this planet – an alien species not much more advanced than us studying Earth from many light-years away would be excited to pick up signature of oxygen/methane in the atmosphere.

Travel beyond Earth momentarily to the vast cosmos. Imagine massive destructive collisions of stars, and the tumultuous dance of the galaxies. Think of black holes pulling in everything in their paths including light itself. Think of the violent births of stars from hydrogen/helium gas within massive interstellar clouds and space dust as they coalesce into nebula clouds, which spin extremely fast, before becoming actual stars. Think of supernovas when stars explode after they run out of energy & fusion stops. Think of tiny neutron stars the size of an Earth city with significantly more mass packed in them than our own sun (neutron stars tend to be some of the heaviest objects in our known universe). Think of distant pulsars, which are extremely powerful neutron stars that spin so fast that they appear like flickering lighthouses in the night sky. Think of gamma ray bursts that could violently strip a planet of its atmosphere instantaneously. Think of the millions of exoplanets out there zipping around their local stars. Imagine alien life on some of those planets that we cannot even begin to fathom. Think of the asteroids and comets slamming violently into the sides of planets, taking new and ancient life away while giving new life.

Now, return back to our little speck of dust we call Earth in the massive bowl of soup of matter and tremendous energy that is our Milky Way galaxy. Think of the brilliantly shining yellow sun rise and set daily as the Earth rotates atop its axis like a spinning top and the life, protection, warmth it provides to every living thing on Earth. Think of the variance in seasons that occur due to the angle of Earth’s axis – without the seasons, life may only exist near the equator with the poles frozen all year. Think of cars beeping and honking, of people talking and yelling. Hear babies laughing and crying. Think of roosters cuckoo’ing in early morning, and wolves howling into the night.

Photo by Kevin Gill / CC BY

Photo by Kevin Gill / CC BY

Picture the lights emanating from the largest cities of the world. Imagine naughty kids running around causing trouble and enjoying the many facets of life. Read the ancient writings of those long gone, and check out paintings of their imaginings of those from eras long before cameras. Listen to music of any genre you prefer – think of the beauty of classical music, the life of jazz, the fast beat of rap, the calm of soft rock, the energy of hard rock, the emotion of country. If you live/work in a big city, check out the hustle and bustle of people walking back & forth amidst the cacophony of noise. Listen to the honks of distant taxi drivers and ordinary drivers swerving in & out of traffic in their rush to get to wherever they need to be. Check out historical records of the world that once was before the days of electricity.

Astronomer Carl Sagan, whom I often look up to for inspiration, famously said about Earth: “That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

There is so much more to life than we can even begin to understand and put into words. This is the life of our species and our home world.

Lets return to Walt Whitman’s poem question he poses: “What good amid these, O me, O life?” The question itself answers the question: life itself is the good amidst everything that we may or may not have in our possession. The fact that we can experience this thing we call life and that we are here. We can look up in the night sky and marvel at the beauty & wonders of the universe. Ultimately, we are only here for a brief moment when we consider how long the universe has been here and how long it will be here long after we are gone.

Life is the single greatest thing we possess. Regardless of the differences we may have, life is one thing we all share in common & what we must cherish. Within that life, the time we have is worth more than anything we may have in our pockets, worth more than any amount of gold or diamonds or the aggregate sum of money in the world. Unfortunately, it is something that not enough people in the world truly understand as tendencies have become overly materialistic over time. Just appreciate that we are here, and that we exist. That is the single greatest thing that inspires me each and every day.

The Fight for Inches

Life is the very essence we must protect through a fight if need be simply to survive, but it never comes easy, huh?

Life is no simple task. We seek more time to accomplish our dreams, success, money, resources, house/property, prosperity, building a family, continuing relationships with family & friends, etc. None of these tasks are easy, and there never seems to be enough time in life. At the end of the day, survival is at the absolute fundamental core of what makes us human. It matters not what our philosophical differences are or religious or gender or skin color or anything else that we can think of. It all comes down to survival, which is perhaps the most crucial thing in life, against obstacles life will throw your way.

When life throws you lemons (issues/problems), you have 3 obvious choices in front of you.

1) Put the lemon aside and not think about it ever again as if it doesn’t exist. Out of sight, out of mind.
2) Give up by taking the lemon to heart. Lose either some of your self/humanity or all of it in the process.
3) Put the lemons to good use by turning the lemons into lemonade (based on famous proverb). Dirt off the shoulder.

Photo by Rob Bertholf / CC BY

Photo by Rob Bertholf / CC BY

I know a little about each of those choices, but nowadays I side with the third option. To hell with issues – you must do everything in your power to trample on them. Smash the lemons into oozing molecules of juice and send it spiraling down the drain. Your only goal must be to overcome in life.

It reminds me of an inspiring speech from football movie ‘Any Given Sunday’ given by team head-coach, played by the great Al Pacino. The team was losing games due to damaged locker-room, and the players were discouraged. The coach walks in and inspires his team to fight, fight, and fight and turn things around by winning their most important game. He says:

“We CLAW with our finger nails for that inch. Cause we know when we add up all those inches, that’s going to make the fucking difference between WINNING and LOSING between LIVING and DYING… I’ll tell you this. In any fight, it is the guy who is willing to die who is going to win that inch. And I know if I am going to have any life anymore it is because, I am still willing to fight, and die for that inch because that is what LIVING is. The inches in front of your face.” -Al Pacino, ‘Any Given Sunday’

You must put everything you have on the line to survive, win or lose. What better way is there to live? You put your heart and mind on the line in the fight, and you will never lose the biggest fights in life because you gave it what you had to give. Outcome may be win or lose, but YOU still win in the end.

It is about everything that leads up to the most important moments in our lives and how we survive through them that defines who we truly are. I’m sure we have all seen or heard of different responses people have in life to difficulties – some may become paranoid, some may just lose their minds, some may become very aggressive & violent, some may become depressed, some may begin to use psychedelic/narcotic drugs, some may give up, etc. I do not believe any of these responses hold sensible merit or honor because there are other ways. You fight and fight until you have nothing left.

I guess if anyone should understand lemons, it would be me as I have dealt with my share of them. Here’s a little bit of my own perspective (not that anyone asked or needs to know). I may have the challenge of muscular dystrophy. I’m may be socially awkward, and I may not be the most optimistic or talkative person, but what most people don’t know about me is I’m tenacious when it comes to challenges in life and clinging unto principle/hope. In life, you have to be tenacious and daring because obstacles and challenges will come. If you let a few challenges get in your way of living, you are not going to last long. You must fight and hold onto whatever it is you have that drives you. You can call it will-power or spirit or soul or what have you, but you must never lose it in life.

In life, you put everything on the line. Everything for the inches to survive. That is how you win.

At the end of the day, we must inspire and help each other because we’re all here for a short time in the grand scheme of the cosmos (it is fine for people to believe in afterlife & rebirth, but after much thought I personally believe life is a one-shot deal so it gives life an even bigger meaning to me). We fight. We survive. As humans, that is what we have always done and will do. We need inspiration. From my view, if I have inspired just a few people, then it has been a success.

Harsh Shukla
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