Feature Image Lauren Bullen
It’s been a while since I last wrote for Salty. What have I been up to since then? Really, I’ve got nothing to tell you about. I haven’t been surfing perfect lefts in Bali or doing yoga on a remote, tropical island. I haven’t taken any photos for my social media that are already beautiful enough that I can use the hashtag #nofilter or #inspiration. I can’t tell you about how great it is that I’m buying fresh, local fruit from the daily markets because that’s not an option. I can’t tell you about the epiphany I had after I spent the entire day on top of snowcapped mountains straight out of a Bob Ross painting. Are you even still listening? That’s okay, I understand.
For those who are still there, let me explain something. There’s an abundance of inspiration in this world of ours. People are moved by different things, and we as individuals are entitled to be true to ourselves and soak up the inspiration that speaks to us. Sometimes it’s where you least expect it and sometimes you feel it coming at you from all sides.
And then sometimes it comes in a form that isn’t labeled as so.
“We as individuals are entitled to be true to ourselves and soak up the inspiration that speaks to us.”
If you want to know what I’ve really been doing lately, it’s probably not very different from you. I spontaneously moved to a new city with only what I could fit into my car. I’m a waitress at a fancy restaurant where I carry a wine bottle properly and talk about its body and the region where it was produced.* My boss reprimands me when I stack the dishes over the forks, and I stress over guests who drink their water faster than I can refill it. I splurged on the Vans with the cushion soles because my dogs were barking at the end of my first few shifts. I spend my mornings at a coffee shop down the street, drinking Cortados and writing from my computer. On my days off, I take yoga classes and watch live music in smoky dive bars as I sip on cheap beer and think about my comforter from Ikea and the “Great British Baking Show” on Netflix that is calling my name.
Being inspirational is a glamorous quality. It’s full of perfect photos of yourself taken in exotic places, captioned with a personal quote of yours after you just quit your day job and bought a one-way plane ticket. Anything aside from that is seen as “normal” and “oppressed” and “what we as millennials are trying to get away from.” If your life doesn’t include an acai bowl source, you are not inspirational. If you’re not working for youself, you haven’t you been inspired. But does that have to be true?
“I find you just as inspiring living your life the way it is.”
For the last few years, I had split my time between living in a small town in West Virginia and then living out of the country. I live in two different worlds, both of which I love dearly and both of which contribute to the person I have become. In turn, part of the year I feel like a source of inspiration for people and then the other part of the year I feel like a deadbeat who is struggling to figure out what the fuck to do with my life. The truth is, I can’t be “on” all the time. The truth is I can’t write about the current trendy lifestyle changes, and sometimes I simply can’t write at all. It’s not that I’m uninspired, it’s that my life isn’t seen as inspiring in the ways that are popular.
But I’m just like you. And I find you just as inspiring living your life the way it is.
I’m now living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Yesterday it felt like summer, and I walked by a smiling little boy who offered me some of his Goldfish snacks without saying a word. He was kicking his feet while sitting on the stoop of his home. I asked if he was having a good day, and he dramatically nodded. The old woman who runs the sandwich shop down the street whispered to me about their secret, free parking lot across the street as if she was telling me she cracked the code to world peace. I held my best friend’s day-old sleeping daughter in a stagnant hospital while the new mother got her first few hours of real sleep too. These are moments I have felt a sense of inspiration just as strong as the moments I have spent in remote areas of Central America and Africa.
These moments are valid and real and just as significant as the ones you have when you’re traveling the world. We don’t need to feel guilty about our often-seen as ordinary lives, but instead acknowledge that the inspiration lives everywhere, even if the emphasis lies elsewhere.
Live your life the way it’s calling, it’s fucking perfect.
*If you want a drier, heavier body wine, I’d recommend my personal favourite the Catena Malbec from Argentina. Get on it here, thank me later.