Sarah: A Brush with Inspiration
I recently returned from a dear friend’s wedding in Minneapolis. The event glittered with the warmth that only weddings can inspire. But alongside all the love and laughter, what stood out were the amazing women I met as a result of being a bridesmaid.
As a lover of literature, art, and philosophy, my inspiration tends to come from people who are, well… quite dead. Don’t get me wrong; there are friends, family, community members, and public figures who I certainly find inspirational, but it was wonderful to meet such a conglomeration of interesting and inspirational women from different states.
Bridesmaid Christine is a young doctor who recounted stories of a few of the patients who have recently impacted her. One young woman, her body ravaged by the last stages of cancer, wreaked of bodily fluid so putrid that other doctors and nurses were forced to wear surgical masks. Christine determined not to wear one and as a result she was able to connect with this woman as they discussed what would be the final days of her struggle. Christine is a woman not only of skill, but tremendous compassion. She connects to her patients’ physiology, but also to their very humanity. As she told her story, she impressed upon her listeners the dignity of each life.
Kimi, another bridesmaid, survived a devastating divorce that left her heartbroken. After hearing her story, no one would blame this woman if she were to retreat into herself, unwilling to take a risk on adventure or love. But despite the searing pain, Kimi picked herself up and moved to Costa Rica for a summer to surf, take Spanish lessons, and rediscover herself. Profoundly changed from her experiences, she has no doubt that she is a better person than she was before the divorce. Her outlook on the very nature of life itself is made of the stuff that poets and philosophers alike have attempted to decode over centuries.
Also a bridesmaid in the wedding, Dana is beautiful and put together in a way that made the rest of us just a bit envious. Dana has one of the most important jobs in the country: she is an elementary school teacher. Her patience is phenomenal and Dana has a true sense of people. Whether quietly cracking just the right one-liner when the entire bridal party was about to pounce on the high-strung (and very confusing!) wedding coordinator, or soothing a distraught friend, Dana is a woman of timeliness and poise.
Erin, the junior bridesmaid, is an eleven-year-old girl who is passionate about two things: dance and history. Although outspoken about her love of dancing, her inner American history geek happily exploded onto the scene when she realized I live in D.C. Her sweet nature, exuberance for life, and fresh perspectives added all the more to the weekend.
There was of course Charity the bride, radiant in all of her splendor, reciting the mellifluous and heartfelt vows she had written for her new husband. Her love and devotion evident, her commitment to their new life was an inspiration to the rest of us and a reminder to hit the refresh button on our own marriages whenever it may be needed.
Somewhere between the father of the bride’s teary-eyed toast and the goofy dancing to “Gangnam Style,” I realized that for just a moment I was lucky enough to encounter the kind of inspiration that one can carry with her through time. Like Christine, I want to see the very essence of each person I encounter. I want to navigate life as gracefully as Kimi. Like Dana, I want to be able to use my words to set any situation right. Like Charity, I want my commitment to friends and family to be obvious to anyone who encounters me. I want to dance myself silly without a care in the world and revel in my own awesome geekiness just like Erin. Maybe I will never reach these goals, but there is beauty in the striving.