Inspirational

The first spoon full of deliberate inspiration that I can remember came from my mother, shortly before I went to school for the first time. I remember her saying I was a smart kid and that I would probably do well at school. Most mothers probably think that of their children. But it gave me courage. It made me feel that there was a positive expectation to live up to. She probably doesn't even remember it anymore. People forget that sometimes small observations can be banked and remembered by others for a very long time - sometimes for eternity.

I have found that in general it is easy to teach. It is much more difficult to inspire, however. To inspire someone, not only knowledge has to be transferred - but also a sense of emotion, a sense of faith, a sense of belief in a positive eventual outcome.

There were many sources of inspiration in my life. There was, for example, the handbook of human life - the Bible. My grandparents gave me a Bible when I was a boy, which I'd underlined and marked up and stuffed full of bookmarks and hauled along with me so much that I eventually had to retire it. It was falling apart. But that as a fountain of inspiration for many years - and continues to be. There were also the examples of the lives of my parents and peers. They were standards I had to live up to - models of what could be achieved. Then there were books. Stories about human endurance - overcoming against all odds. Books about escapes from prisons, books about overcoming personal circumstances and huge social obstacles. Stories of survival against the elements. Accounts of endurance and success in war, in business - and in life.

Of course, there is also inspiration in the world of music. Can one not be inspired to great thoughts when listening to the Ride of the Valkyries? Or the 1820 Overture? And if anyone wanted to imagine what it would be like to be able to juggle stars and spin galaxies in the palm of his hand - all he had to do is close his eyes and go tumbling through outer space to the symphonic drama of Beethoven's 9th or 5th symphonies.

Then there is inspiration that comes from long walks upon quiet beaches. Or during pre-dawn moments when all the world is fast asleep while for those precious moments alone - the universe belongs to you.

Inspiration comes from many sources. One thing we must remember, however, is that inspiration is a giving matter, as much as it is a receiving matter. Our lives and examples inspire or depress the lives of others - or run the risk of leaving them untouched. Which of the three it will be is often up to us. That being the case, the question begs to be asked: when upon the close of life one day, we should look back to those whose lives we had touched while we had been alive - how many of them would we have inspired at all?

A successful life would be one that could look back and see a long line of grateful faces - rows of high fives and thumbs up from people who had seen a life and said: "I want to be like that one day."

These are a few of the inspiring photographs that I have taken over the years:

I woke up this morning, thinking about why people water down their dreams as they grow older. And then I scribbled down my summary of the matter. — inGlentana.

My dad had an unplanned retirement at the age of 50. As far as I know, by that time he had achieved every dream he ever had. Dreams are interesting. The more you believe in them, the more real they become. 

A dream is a potential destination. The moment you create one it is like an island. Faith that it can be reached provides the bridge that connects reality with that future. And hard work, is what is required to embark on that course and to stay on it until the goal is reached. 

I took this picture on Swartvlei one afternoon as the sun was going down. It shows the ruined Outeniqua Tjoo Choo track that has fallen into disrepair after floods. To me, however, it looked like the road to the future. And I knew I had to stay on it. Now. Forever.

I stood and stared at this scene for a long time one afternoon. I had travelled on this very railway line twice when the old steam train still ran her usual route. And now she's gone and only I am left. One day I will be gone too - my last lap completed. But the journey will continue. It always does. And when I look back, I'll see that I lost faith too easily to often in the past. Every time I reached a spot like this one, I thought that the journey was over. But it's never over. We just think that way sometimes.

Sometimes a failed photograph can have other uses. I photographed this seagull as it passed the sun, over-exposing the picture and spoiling it with lens-flare. And yet, the moment I saw it, I knew it would work. I simply added one of my favourite Johnathan Livingstone Seagull quotes. — at The Point, Mossel Bay.

One afternoon somewhere on the landmarkless side of Keimoes - a crumbling day across the limitless northern Cape. And a sky that spoke - whether anyone was there to listen or not. 

I was born on the same day as the man who spoke these words - and when I captured this moment yesterday - I thought the words suited my thoughts so well.

“The gull sees farthest who flies highest” ? Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull — at Glentana Beach.