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    2nd January 2006


    I am an inspiration. Or so I’ve been told many times in the last year or so. Much of the time I’m not really sure exactly what that means, so I try not to be offended or get angry. One of the athletes that the documentary Murderball follows recounts a story about one of the first times he went out to a bar after becoming a quadraplegic. A fellow whom he didn’t know came up and told him “it was good to see him out there” and this guy says, “What? Like I was supposed to be stuck in a closet somewhere or something?…”

    Of course the disability tag does get to me a bit sometimes, but not as much as this other thing: The feeling that there are many many eyes looking at me. Yet here I am posting on this website, about to complain about how many people out there are interested in what I’m up to. Here’s one thing I’ve been doing lately: Going to parties and answering the same set of questions for friends and aquaintances of my past schools and churches and whatnot. And then I go to public places and answer a similar set of questions from people who randomly talk to me because I’m in a wheelchair or because they read an article in the paper about me.

    I know that answering the same set of questions is what everyone does at parties and social gatherings (like graduation parties, the set of questions is, 1) where are you going to school? 2) what are you going to study? and 3) why would you study that?) but I can assure you that I get to do it to the extreme.

    Now, there are worse things in the world than having to talk to lots and lots of people, and its nice that I am able to “inspire” them, but what does inspiration really do? The people who have always influenced me the most are the ones that I spend a fair amount of time with, and especially that I did things with: co-workers or teamates or roomates and the like. So one of my difficulties with being an “inspiration” is that though I might inspire people, there is no accountability in that inspiration.

    Another way in which this “inspiration” thing makes me a bit uncomfortable is that I have always lived (and acted) according to the idea that actions speak louder than words – you can tell people that you love them, but they’ll really believe you if you go over and help them wash dishes and do their homework or cook dinner for them and invite them to hang out with you and your friends. I have had some difficulties finding activities – active activities – that I like doing with people and can still do as a paraplegic. I used to bond through running and whatnot or going on stupid hiking and hitchhiking adventures. Maybe I need a job again or something, but it would be fairly hard for me to have a job and go to school at the same time next semester. Guitar lessons. I am willing to give guitar lessons to people in Grand Rapids this spring if they are serious about learning…

    And here is the third and most important reason that I am uncomfortable with being an “inspiration” – it is also a reason that is most cutting for me to realize: It is hard to be an inspiration when I am not so sure that my lifestyle is something that I would want to be inspired by. I’m no Super-Christian, to say what is obvious. I am a Christian, but there are enough times when I am shamed to say it because my actions speak otherwise.

    Praise Jesus that in his perfection he frees us from our need to be perfect! But mercy! it seems like I ought to be moving forward in the process of sanctification and so often it seems like I am not. I decided at the beginning of the fall semester that if I could do anything it would be to inspire people to read the Bible, and if I could do anything else it would be to help them understand and respond to the scriptures. How have I been doing that? Have I been doing that at all? A number of people asked how I was handling the minor celebrity that I had acquired and I told them that if I could just take the attention and refocus it on something else, than I would be willing to endure such “popular” status. Have I been that upward pointing arrow that I wanted to be?

    Now if it sounds like I’m just griping about my station in life or the fact that lots of people like to talk to me, I should make this clear: I love people. I love talking to people; I love listening to people; (usually) when people ask me silly questions about being in a wheelchair (or my favorite – when little children are asking their parents questions about me just a few feet away and their parents are terribly embarrassed…) I (usually) see the very human curiousity to which I myself am disposed and cannot help but love the silly question. I would choose spending time with people and answering their questions over whatever schoolwork or going to sleep or responsible activity were the alternative – even if it made me feel uncomfortable, which it sometimes does; I would choose it every time.

    With respect to how I use my time and interact with people, I have made three New Years resolutions (or at least three maxims which I hope will order my life) and all of them are somewhat relevent to the last couple of posts on this site:

    This year I hope to continue moving forward in my quest to maximize my potential in my recovery from SCI.

    This year I pray that in conversation and action I may not just be an inspiration, but that I would better be a pointer to the God who is my inspiration.

    This year I want to fall in love with my faithful Savior, my God, once more – before I fall in love with anything else.

    Cheers to a Happy New Year and Thanks to God for a wonderful close to a year in which he was so faithful through trials and tears and even a few moments of pure joy and inspiration.


    2 Responses to “Inspiration…”

    1. Miss McGiness says:

      As always, Daryl, thanks for sharing what’s on your heart. For the first time, I kind of understand what it feels like to be the unintentional center of attention at all times and attract stares in public places. I mean, it’s obvious that I’m an American (as much as I might try to hide it), and it feels weird to notice people staring at me whenever I walk down the street or go to school or go shopping. But I don’t think that my Americanness is necessarily an inspiration to people over here… 🙂

    2. E says:


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    Copyright 2005 by Daryl Holmlund - All rights reserved.