on inspiration

Inspiration is contagious. Pass it on.

The “L” and “F” words I have no problem with. It’s the “I” word that never ceases to humble, motivate, challenge, influence, move and shock me.
*There. I’ve said it.*
When I think about the people who have inspired me, I do so with the utmost respect and admiration. And I also do so with endless gratitude — for they are the people that have inspired me to push my boundaries and take the chances that have led me to become the person I am. When I think about it, those people just seem to have walked into my life, at JUST the right moment, and with JUST the right message. And those messengers, through the magic of inspiration, have led my life in directions I didn’t even know existed. I’m in awe of their influence on my life.
So imagine my surprise when I started to get letters in my solbeam@seekingsol.com inbox with messages that included the “I” word.
Someone’s giving me the “I” word? The idea that anything I’ve said has been an “inspiration” to anyone never fails to shock me. This whole project has been for my own personal enjoyment, I love doing this. Adventuring, writing, sharing — this site — it’s all simply a reflection of my personal progressive development. That someone might actually find something useful from my blogging-banter *although astounding* brings me great happiness and makes every inch of energy, every penny of investment, and every keystroke of type – worth it.
Inspiration is contagious. And I’d like to share my own story of how I was first inspired to make travel a priority in my life.
Around March of 2000, I was on this little ferryboat on the Southern Coast of Brazil, a few hours south of Rio near an island called Ilha Grande. There I met a group of Aussies. One of the guys was named Saxon. Saxon didn’t say a word for the first few hours that I sat next to him but I could NOT keep my eyes off him. He had this calmness and peace about him that reflected he had “seen” and “heard” enough things in his travels that he had learned the values of listening and quiet observation. That look that I saw in his eyes — that I had never seen before — was amazing. Inspiring. And I wanted it.
“Complications” arose with the boat and there was no way we were going to make it back to catch our connecting ferry to the mainland. My pack, money, and passport were all locked up at a hostel hours away. All I had was my bikini. Two of the girls I was with decided to try to make it back to the mainland. I decided to spend the night with the Aussie boys on this essentially deserted (one extended family lived there) part of the island. I waved the ferry boy and his boat on…knowing full well that he was probably not going to come back, and there was a good chance I was going to miss my flight home to the States.
I could write a book about that that night on the island, but in short, that night was one of the best of my life. I can’t even begin to describe the magic that was present. I remember all the sights, smells and sensations of that night as if it were yesterday, but most of all I remember the influence of that overwhelming peace that radiated from this Aussie boy who had been on the road for over a year and a half. Saxon inspired me. It was that day that I made some serious promises to myself in regards to what exactly was going to happen in my life over the next year. I scribbled all these plans and goals out in my travel journal, and collapsed in the relief of finally making the decision to follow my heart. All I had to do now — was make it happen.
The day I announced my resignation to CC (about a year later), I e-mailed Saxon for the first time and told him that I had bought a one year ticket to Central America. I then told him exactly how he inspired me and expressed my appreciation. This is what he wrote back:
Thank you for the greatest compliment one could receive. Inspiration is a powerful thing and, to the soul, more precious than all the diamonds on sandy African beaches. I hold my inspiration in the highest regard because with all of them collectively you can move the world. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Now, two years later, I can smile in a silent and consuming confidence that I have realized those promises I wrote out in my journal that day; Promises inspired by the silent and consuming confidence I saw in Saxon’s eyes. So I understand the power of inspiration. And if I have sent out one message to one person that has moved them a fraction of how I was moved that day in Brazil a few years ago, I will be hopelessly happy. So don’t thank me. “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

(That unforgettable night in Brazil.)
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