As a college gymnast, our Coach introduced us to a motivational series called “EDGE” which was designed to enlighten us and give us a mental edge over anything that might limit us including ourselves.
The video series took us about a week to complete. It came with a handbook for us to take notes and reflect on the lessons we learned. One of the elements of this series was what we called “fortune cookies.” They were motivational quotes that were cleverly packaged in “book of matches” sized envelope. A small tab allowed you to peel the paper face of the envelope back along perforated edges like those old school sardine can lids and the quote was revealed on the surface inside.
We would open one of these “fortune cookies” every day prior to beginning our training sessions with the idea being that the message would inspire us to live our best lives in the gym that day. I loved this ritual. From an early age, I was fascinated by the ability some people had to take a sentence or two and pack it with so much wisdom and power and inspiration. I wanted to be able to have something I said be considered quotable and catalogued for people to be inspired by it.
In high school I came up with a quote that would guide me for many years. I still remember it: “Life’s hardness is determined by the way you choose to live.” I felt so wise and scholarly after I whittled my 17 years of hard earned life lessons into those 11 words.
Thinking about that quote now, I realize I have lived my entire life in a way with that as my guiding principle. I have also surrounded myself with nuggets of wisdom that inspire me or motivate me or pick me up when I am down or remind me that all things are possible.
I saved a few of the “fortune cookies” we opened during those practice sessions back in the mid 1980’s. I opened one of them after I wrote the preceeding sentence. Here's what it says:
“Beethoven, Wagner, Bach and Mozart all worked regular shifts each day, just like an accountant settles in at the calculator. They did not sit down to work because they were inspired, but became inspired because they sat down to work.”
I am smiling as I type right now because of the magic of that statement. I randomly chose a "fortune cookie" and it has everything to do with what I am writing about. I vaguely remember how I felt when I first opened that fortune cookie many years ago and it still carries great power and inspiration. It's amazing how the fortune cookies served with Chinese takeout and the"fortune cookies" we read before practice could easily be applicable to some aspect of our lives.
i have decided to take on a 21 day writing challenge which will take me on a journey where I explore the idea of inspiration. I will consider how I’ve been inspired and ways I’ve inspired others and how that leads to what we create or present to the world around us.
In the spirit of the "fortune cookie" message above, I vow to become inspired by sitting down to do the work of this writing challenge and I hope you too sit down and do the work that you are here to do.