Thursday, February 19, 2009

Be Inspired, And Inspiring

I guess we all need a little inspiration. And we can all be inspiring.

Last night I watched three reality shows: Chopped, American Idol, and From Gs to Gents, and realized why I and so many others connect with reality shows--because even though they are sometimes silly, they sometimes do portray real people living inspiring lives.

On Chopped, Chris, one of the four chefs selected to create meals out of weird ingredients, was a former boxer. He came into the competition with the mindset that he was going to win. That mindset obviously served him well in the boxing arena, and it did in the cooking arena as well.

Because he won.

Even though his meals were not as creative or edgy as the other contestants, he stayed focused, and he said over and over that he was going to win. And he was a great guy. When one of the chefs broke down and cried over being chopped, he gave her a hug. He was gracious when receiving criticism from the judges, saying only, "Thank you, Chef". Unlike other contestants who sometimes get bad attitudes.

Now...about From Gs to Gents. When I started watching this show last summer, I thought it would be really stupid. I was wrong! It's about real guys from the streets, the hood, whatever you want to call it, trying to better their lives and become "gentlemen" --and win $100,000.

In this season's opener, one of the contestants, Dirty, got stinking drunk. He was so drunk that he sat in a fire pit, threw another contestant who could not swim into the pool, and finally passed out.

The next day, he had to tell his story to Farnsworth Bentley, the host of the show. Prior to hearing Dirty's story, Bentley was inclined to throw Dirty out of the house.

Dirty's story was that when he was two months old his mother dumped him in a garbage dumpster. Fortunately someone found him, and he was in and out of foster care all his life. He admitted to having alcohol problems.

Bentley's outlook after hearing the story was, "How can I throw him out, when everyone else has thrown him out his whole life?"

Bentley told Dirty he'd get him help for his alcohol problem, and asked Dirty to apologize to the rest of the contestants and see if he could earn their respect. He did, and asked to be called Baron, his real name. "I'm not Dirty anymore," he said. He wants to experience a better life.

It was very moving. And real.

And at last, American Idol. The first three contestants in the final 12 were chosen, and all three had inspiring stories as well as being good singers.

There's Alexis, the 21-year-old single mother who is doing this to create a better life for her daughter; Danny, the church music director whose wife passed away last summer, and Michael, a roughneck on an oil rig trying to create a better life for his wife and child.

Chris. Baron. Danny. Alexis. Michael.

All are standouts in the inspiration arena. All have experienced pain, hard times, uncertainty, difficulties.

Yet they are all inspired by something greater than themselves, and that is what makes them inspiring to us.

Yet, each of us can look at our own lives and realize that we, too, are inspiring.

The inspiring things about our lives don't have to be shared with millions on television to be meaningful.

They can be shared with just one person, and they will have an impact.

What inspiration can you find in your own life today, and with whom can you share it?

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