Oh, those super sweet inspirational lists.
They’re plastered on Facebook walls and refrigerator doors and bulletin boards everywhere, including my own.
“Be happy. Be free. Be present. Dance more. Smile more.”
They’re written in loopy, carefree letters that somehow smell like mid-Summer sunshine and sweet first kisses.
And, honestly, I love how it feels to read those uplifting little sentences. I want all that happiness and dancing and presence.
But, it also feels a lot like eating candy for dinner—addictive and yummy, but never fully satisfying, leaving my soul starving for something more substantial.
Besides, what the damn hell does any of it actually mean?
Be happy, how?
Be present, how?
Be free, in what way?
It comes up empty, half-hearted and conveniently vague.
It sidelines the fact that, for most of us, life is fucking hard. It’s complex; it’s beautiful, painful, joyful, almost always messy, unpredictable and a little bit scary.
So, where’s the backbone in inspiration that’s barely skin deep?
Let’s go for substance. Let’s go for meaty, soul-quenching knowledge, not just vague ideas that illicit short-lived bursts of feel-good energy that dies in seven seconds.
The truth about living vibrantly, freely and boldly?
It’s not always pretty.
In fact, it can be pretty fucking gruesome.
It’s exhausting, sweaty and grimy because there is not a single shortcut to fulfillment or freedom or happiness or love.
We have to sit in our own slimy muck, delving deep inside the dirty, torn-up cracks of our souls, hearts and minds.
We have to stand there naked, dripping in our vulnerability, confronting cold hard truths and stoking fiery breaths of transformation.
We have to own our shit and roll around in it.
The good, the bad, the beautiful, and the heartbreakingly terrible.
All of it.
We have to be really, really, really soul-shatteringly honest.
And, real courage?
It’s not just randomly created because we want it. It’s earned.
It’s given when we consistently step up to life, day in and day out—even when we’d rather be in bed, throwing super fabulous pity parties.
The truth is—living vibrantly, freely and boldly is not for the faint of heart.
It’s for the ones crazy enough to hold hands with despairing demons and kiss jealousy’s jaded lips.
It’s for the ones curious enough to greet every emotion trampling through their souls with rooted, feet-on-the-ground respect.
Yes, let’s greet all those fucking feelings!
All of them.
Not just the pretty, sparkly, peaceful ones.
Let’s invite them all inside our hearts for dinner, drinks and dessert.
That takes real balls.
I fail at that most days; we all do.
But, if we want true inspiration, then let’s dive inward, for a never-ending, one-of-a-kind adventure.
Let’s cultivate a healthy respect for the difficult days and difficult moments and difficult years and difficult truths.
Let’s strive to revel in the roller coaster of life—the ups, downs, motion-sickness, fear and all.
Let’s learn to accept ourselves as glaringly, gorgeously flawed as we are right now.
Because life is not all candied rainbows and cloudless, charmed days—and when it is, well, let’s enjoy the shit out it.
But when it’s not, let’s appreciate that just as much.
Because life is hard and beautiful and shocking in its soul-crushing rawness.
There is inspiration in every single facet.
The good days, the bad days, the mediocre days, and every damn day in between.
Inspiration lives within us, not in the pages of some stupid syrupy lists.
Let’s open the door and look inside.
Let’s stand there—naked and stripped—ready to get down and dirty with our juicy, real selves.
Author: Sarah Harvey
Editor: Travis May
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