12/05/2012 10:42 am ET Updated Feb 04, 2013

Ode to Our Inspirations

How does it feel to be deeply inspired? Who in your life arouses these feelings in you?

Inspiration is a whacky, singular thing. No two people could ever possibly be inspired by all the same greats, though there are of course mass overlaps when it comes to the luminescent icons of our time, the visionaries who inspire the world. Still, some inspirations are so close and profoundly intimate that nobody else might ever imagine their incredible power to open the heart of another or bring about exaltedness.

Just as an electrician said to me years ago in San Francisco, "There's no right or wrong to your feelings," there's equally no right or wrong to who inspires you. They might be remarkably solid people, or huge walking hearts, or amazing talents, or wise teachers. There is no hard and fast rule. Anyone can inspire. What's important is that you are more awed and awake when in their midst. What's important is that these inspirations not only deeply touch you, but that they move you to emanate your own subtle or stand out magnificence.

Dorothy Whipple, one of my favorite British writers, wrote in her novel Greenbanks, "'Mmmm,' said Charles. 'The French have an expression Bon comme le pain. When I heard it, I thought of you. You're good, like bread; you're essential, you know, Mother. The world couldn't get on without people like you.'" This was a son speaking to his mother. Don't his words capture to a tee the feelings that our own inspirations elicit?

It is so vital to take the time once in a while to give shout outs to these lights, these beacons that have palpably made our lives and often many other lives around them better. Why not make a list, then some calls. Or why not send out emails and tweets to your personal inspirations? Let them know just how pivotal they are to you, and that the world just wouldn't be the same without them. Now's as a good a time as any.

My grandmother Sylvia, though she's been gone for many years, is my essential inspiration, the "good like bread" beam of glorious hope that will always see me through. I know she feels how safely nested she is in my heart, and that she will forever float along beside me, in all my endeavors, triumphant or failed, because she of all people has taught me about love, and love is after all the marrow of life.

Sylvia, brightest light of them all, this one's for you.

In sweet inspiration,


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