Sunday, 3 March 2013

My inspirational 'list'

Only recently I was asked for a list of people who inspired me, real or imaginary, and importantly, of both genders. A list of names, and why I considered them so important to my identity...

Normally I don't create such lists. I read up on people who interest me and store the relevant novels/biographies in an ever growing personal collection. But I don't see the point in actively remembering a list. It is not the name of the person which is important, but instead the messages they convey through their experiences and how these messages impact upon my life. Rather, the messages get absorbed, the strengths that made them who they are, and the weaknesses that are learned from and applied without the need for personal experiences. The list, who these people are, fades into the background, their importance registered through my continued interest in their lives, the fact their stories never get old. The fact they're people I treasure as my own, as though I have a personal connection with them even though they may have lived and died decades before I was born, or never lived at all.

Recently I discovered a list upon which several of these names resided. A list I too had compiled at some time or other in a bid to suggest reading material to a primary school teacher friend of mine. A list of the 10 Best Literary Heroines for Girls. I grew up with Anne of Green Gables, the March sisters, the Seven Little Australians children of Captain Woolcot, as well as a host of children who didn't appear on that list; Norah and Jim Linton and Wally Meadows of Billabong, Mary Lennox, Little Lord Cedric Fauntleroy. Reading Natasha's list and being reminded of the virtues of these characters, I remember the reasons the stories of each one are still in my bookcase 15 years later. And the reasons I still reread these books every few years.

Later as I got older, as my reading matured, this 'list' of these inspirational people changed, adapted with me. It grew to include real people, past and present. People who were before their time, people who lived unusual lives and were almost forgotten in the annals of history, people who were witty, or just recorded the world around them in their own personal way. People who discovered the beauty of the world and had to share it with the world.
But I will always hold a place in my heart for those early characters, for it was them who encouraged me to dream, to live a full life, to be grateful for what we have as opposed to melancholy about what we don't have or can't have, and to appreciate the beauty of the world around us.

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