Last week in my journaling group, in celebration of Sally Ride, everyone wrote about people who had inspired them. The rules were simple, as are most of the rules in this group. The main rule is to WRITE. The other guideline was to write about someone who has inspired you—in your life or someone famous. Write about anyone at all, but write about inspiration.
Everyone wrote about very different people—some within their lives and some famous. But what was iinteresting was that within the writing, there was no focus on external beauty. The reasons that individuals were seen as inspiring were related to their internal qualities. Much of it came down to compassion. It was through compassion for others that inspiration came and compassion for themselves and their dreams and their ideals.
As I said, this writing exercise and this blog were inspired by Sally Ride. I was saddened by her death, but inspired by her life. Clearly she embodied the essence of compassion. She followed her own dreams and became the first woman in space. She then helped inspire others’ dreams by working to encourage children’s study of science. She showed women everywhere that we are capable of anything.
Dream, Dare, Do!
Yet there is an aspect of Sally Ride’s life that we didn’t get to in the journaling group, but which I think is important to consider. Ride’s partner of 27 years, Tam O’Shaughnessy, will not receive survivor benefits. This raised the question for me—how do we deal with inequalities in our lives? We all come up against them—some huge, some small. Some hear the words, “If you were a boy, I’d work to put you through college.” Some hear thoughts of what they are or aren’t able to do. We hear about benefits taken away from people. But we also hear about power being taken away or dreams.
• Take the prompt that we used in our journaling group. Write about someone who inspires you and why. Maybe expand the prompt. Write about someone in your life who inspires you. Then pick someone who feels larger than life. What is it that inspires you? What do you see as important qualities?
• Our group focused a lot on compassion—for others and for oneself. What does compassion mean to you? How do you show compassion to others? What compassion have you received? What compassion do you show yourself? It seems that often individuals can accept stumbles from others, but not from themselves. While we need to strive to better ourselves, we need to accept that we are “imperfectly perfect”.
• Now journal about any inequalities that you have felt in your life. Are there things that others have told you that you can’t achieve or don’t deserve? Are there criticisms that you give yourself? For inequalities that you face in life, how do you deal with them? Do you give in? Do you fight? For the inequalities that you inflict on yourself, how can you challenge any negative beliefs? Ask yourself—would you tell these same criticisms to others? Can you show yourself the same compassion that you would show to others?
• Now consider the quote which I love and which relates to this blog. “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” Journal to understand what your “moon” is. What are your dreams? If anything was possible, what would you pursue? How do you add some of your dream to your life? My dream includes writing, and here I am…putting words to paper.
Go on now, Write On!
Martha Peaslee Levine, MD