On New Year’s Day, a dear friend reminded me that one year ago I wrote in my childish scrawl an intention for 2015: “Accept whatever comes with grace.” She said she’d thought about that some over the course of the year and, as she gave me a long strong hug, that I was an inspiration.
“Inspiration.” It’s a word I’ve heard quite a few times these last many months, and one that has up to now made me cringe. I am such an unholy mess of a girl, how could I possibly inspire anything except perhaps by counter example: “Kids, don’t try this at home,” look at this woman with her shattered heart and knees bruised from repeatedly falling to them. I am like one of those old After School Specials designed to frighten children into good behavior; Robbie Benson should be wandering through any moment now.
But suddenly it occurs to me that my short sentence written on that colorful piece of origami paper was an intention. Not a promise, not a vow, not a challenge, and certainly not a fait accompli. It was my aspiration—perhaps even my plea—for the year. And maybe that’s the key. Maybe that’s what they mean when they say “inspiration.” I am just a regular girl trying to do my best to handle whatever comes at me. Nobody is impressed when Superman lifts a couch with one hand to vacuum underneath it. Amazing people should do amazing things, and frankly they shouldn’t expect any applause for it.
But the rest of us mere mortals—the ones who get toothpaste on our shirts, trip over nothing in our paths, forget to pay the phone bill, and neglect to say “please” or “thank you” at times—we might serve as an example to all the others who face broken furnaces, sick children, flat tires, damaged hearts, or husbands who die. All of these are tests with the potential to break us, but all of them challenge us to be our best person, and all of them are opportunities to approach the vagaries of life with good humor. Maybe that’s our job: we all of us have to handle things all the time, and at least trying to do it with some style, kindness, and poise models a way of coping with the world that might help other people one day.
So did I accept everything in 2015 with grace? I suspect I could line up some folks who would be a bit equivocal in their answer to that. (And I suspect it could be a pretty long line, honestly.) But I tried. That was my intention. And if that effort, regardless of the results, can inspire somebody? Well, okay, I’ll take that.