One only needs to do a quick glance at social media to see that there is no shortage of people creating inspiring work and sharing inspiring stories. So what’s missing? In the few years since I started LivingVertical the once sparsely populated landscape has grown a little crowded. Don’t believe me? Go on Instagram and look at the #type1diabetes hashtag. Sure, there’s still some okra water, cinnamon pills and some “woe” boaters floating about on that sea of virtual humanity–but my goal was never to eliminate those perspectives–merely to offer an alternative alongside them. Technology has allowed this community to grow to the point where I no longer feel like an outsider as an active and unrepentant type 1. I’m really thankful for that.
The question that I keep coming back to is what still is missing from the equation–because inspiration abounds and the net reality of life with type 1 diabetes seems largely unchanged for it.
I’m not waving a white flag–but trying to look critically at the premise of most of my work: we need stories and inspiration to change the narrative surrounding life with a chronic illness. Maybe I’ve been looking at it all wrong. It’s only taken me 5 years to start figuring out what I’m doing here so it’s good to have a jump start on the whole process.
Inspiration doesn’t change lives. Initiative does. Action that overcomes the inertia–the paralysis of the static life. Climbing is how I connect to that. It’s North on my compass and from climbing has come many other levers that I’ve used to keep from slowing down. Photography. Writing. Creating. Noticing. The make and model of the compass are not nearly as important as having your own idea of North and taking steps to navigate on a journey. The goal is not to possess a perfect, flawless compass that can be listed on eBay at the end of its service as “new or like new condition“.
Inspiration is a by product of something that does change lives–and that’s the simple act of showing up and doing the work. It’s important not to confuse the two. Choosing to see the creative choice in our lives directly opposes destructive force in our lives. This is nothing short of transformational if we take the step to go beyond how we feel about doing the work and simply do the work. This means trying with no regard or concern for failure. Uncertainty is the space we need to occupy with pride. It’s not safe and certainly not neat. Inspiration is not the foundation for change. It’s the antecedent. It comes after making the change and doing the hard part.
We don’t need inspiration to get started or show up consistently. We just need to get started and show up consistently.