A Million Miles of Inspiration
Soon, a knock on the door sounded, and in came Sergeant Jones (not his real name). He came in to find out if we were finished with getting our room ready for the White Glove inspection that was looming over us. Todd told him we had about 10-15 minutes left and we would be done. Sergeant Jones asked where Vosika was (me), and Todd said that Vosika was getting a soda or something. Then Todd started bad-mouthing me a little (we were in view of each other), and Sergeant Jones started agreeing with him (a little) and talking about me even more in an unexpected good tone. Just as Jones began turning for the barracks room door to leave, he looked up and saw me sitting there on top of the locker with a grin on my face (I was about 19 years old then). His face went flush as he gasped, “Oh man, you know how to make a guy feel really small!” I laughed at him – Todd laughed at him, and the Sergeant smiled a little and shook his head and left.
Then, I started to feel small. While we were trying to trap Sergeant Jones into badmouthing me, that unexpected good tone Jones had spoken toward me was that he actually started defending and complimenting me! Jones passed the test and I failed on this one. You see, I often consider “grapevine” compliments the best compliments – it’s what is said about a person when they’re not around. I heard some good stuff from Sergeant Jones about myself when he didn’t think I was around – I knew then that I had one more friend than I thought I had! At least, until that moment. Well, he let it go after I apologized the next day for the trap we sprung on him. That was a prank that he clearly didn’t deserve.
How is this anything about inspirational points-of-view? I learned a lot from the perspective I gained that day. I learned that inspiration can be used for good or bad. I learned that I would rather choose the good side of inspiration and not use it for cheap amusement. The biggest thing I think I learned was that there are so many ways to gain a different, if not inspirational, perspective – even in an Army barracks. I started finding different places to go that were not on my regular route. I started “bush-whacking” a little more to get off of the regular beaten path. I wanted to take the “Road less traveled”. I guess that’s why I co-started our business called Red Clover. Be warned, though! There are reasons why some roads are less traveled (as if you didn’t know this already and thanks to Robert Frost for his poem called The Road Not Taken)!
Getting off the beaten path takes extra energy and work, but it can be very worth it. Often, it makes all the difference. When Liesl and I first met, the first and most important thing that we had in common was hiking and backpacking. For a number of years we were, fairly, avid hikers – getting out as much as we could for five to ten mile or more hikes. We hiked and backpacked in places where we got above the tree-lines in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon and Washington. Some trails we hiked were blasted into sheer basalt rock faces – going behind big waterfalls through tunnels or natural overhangs. Streams and waterfalls were plentiful there – so were the vistas of deep forested valleys, ridges, and the reddest sunsets I have ever seen over the high mountain horizons. Sometimes when you look back on the dizzying heights you just came down from, you can get a powerful sense of inspiration and a whole new perspective. It seems as if you just completed a journey of a hundred million miles, and could gaze backward and up in awe on every luscious and wondrous detail where you once walked.
I don’t know what the most important inspiration I gained from all the different things in my own experience. But, I believe it has something to do with quality of life – something worth living for – something worth remembering - something worth sharing! It is very easy to get into a rut. That's something I know too well! Sometimes, throughout my life, I would sit in unusual (safe is recommended) places on the floor or next to a fence, or up on top of a building. This can be a good way to start getting out of any life rut. It can be fun. However, if someone sees you in an unusual place, high or low sitting and pondering, you may look a little weird – a little like a cuckoo in a tree. I think it’s a good and harmless weird, though. Maybe, you or I will inspire someone from our cuckooness to improve the quality of their life by our example. Maybe, the onlookers will just have an unexpected good laugh. I certainly have gotten inspired by other folks that were superior at living than me!
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