I Believe in Inspiration

Matthew - Santa Monica, California
Entered on June 15, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

I Believe in Inspiration.

I was flying home from a Thanksgiving weekend with family in Chicago; unprepared to return to the assortment of AP classes that awaited me. In the musty cabin, I found spirit.

I reached into the seat pocket in front of me and pulled out whatever I could find. Aside from two packs of stale peanuts, I discovered an edition of Spirit—the Southwest Airlines Magazine—with an article that would change my life forever. As in life, the diamond wasn’t on the cover, but on the last page. After skimming the issue, I came to an anecdote of truth: a commentary on Randy Pausch’s “last lecture.” Instantly, I began to cry.

My tears did not taste like the over-salted peanuts I ate, but tasted similar to the sweet, thirst quenching glass of Sprite sitting on my tray table. I don’t normally cry when there’s a Hallmark, Kodak, or Cheerios commercial, but this was a homemade card addressed to God. The page entitled “blessings counted” told the story of Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch, who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer—given just months to live. Pausch responded to the diagnosis with an inspirational “last lecture” to Mellon students and faculty, empowering his students to live out their childhood dreams.

As you can probably guess, I meticulously removed this keepsake from the magazine and have kept the article under my desk ever since. Pausch’s lecture has forever inspired me. If a dying forty-seven year old has the will to make a difference in the lives of others, so will I. Because as Pausch mentions in his lecture, one of the downsides of life is that who ever we are: eventually time runs out. But as he has shown me, it’s never too late to inspire. Pausch’s lecture does not tell anyone how to “really achieve their childhood dreams”, but teaches the limitless power of human hope. As much as I hope that Pausch’s cancer disappears, I know that the clock is ticking for all of us. That flight moved me, but today I am inspired.

I am inspired by Pausch to make a difference in the lives of others. I had been a longtime participant in Circle of Friends; however, slowly I began to see the potential in turning our passive Wednesday meetings into lunchtime lectures that would last a lifetime. I began to discuss the wide array of options my friend has after high school, aside from Santa Monica Community College. After countless sessions of inspiring hope in dreams my friend once fathomed impossible: he now wants to become the first Circle of Friends student to attend UCLA. As he put it, “I want to go to college and open a jewelry store, while helping others along the way”. I believe that inspiration is an everlasting gift that bears a chain of hope to our nation’s future. It is an impalpable spirit that never dies.

I was inspired by Pausch. I inspired my friend. My friend will inspire others. Have I inspired you?