"Inspiration empowers ideas that are brilliant, creative, or timely." — Jonas Cain
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Before a word was even spoken—before even the cheers and applause subsided—he hummed a note, beckoning us to follow.
A chorus of hums immediately began resonating in unison from all across the darkened theater, uniting a diverse crowd with oneness and harmony.
Then he started singing, and without any further instruction, everyone (everyone!) followed his lead, joining in to sing a rendition of “My Country tis of Thee.”
As a child, my grandparents would often take us grandkids on weekend road trips through New England, and during those outings we would often hear this man’s voice come across the radio.
Three decades later, on a cold February night in 2017, it was a surreal experience to hear that same voice resonate through the theater, live and in person, captivating our attention and inspiring our hearts with an evening of storytelling with Garrison Keillor.
He shared important moments in his life, moments he wanted to write down because they were worth remembering—moments of fallibility shaping who he is and why he is. These intimate confessions resonated with us because they expressed our own private desires and mirrored our own intimate experiences.
In the Coen Brothers film The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a character in the final scene emphasizes the profound inspiring quality of stories, stating how “...people can’t get enough of them...they connect the stories to themselves…and we all love hearing about ourselves—so long as the people in the stories are us, but not us.”
The stories Mr. Keillor shared with us that night inspired our hearts and minds because they reassured us that we are not alone, revealing a shared underlying narrative of the human experience. In his own words: “We are more alike than we think, and certainly more than we try to be.”
The timeliness of his reassuring and inspiring stories becomes poignant when we consider how the cold February air outside the theater mirrored the cold climate of a nation becoming increasingly divided during the dawning of a new era.
Perhaps, if we choose to, we can come in from the cold and, rather than fighting over the diversity of our differences, we can instead join in harmony from every mountainside to recognize our shared human narrative.
Such can be the hope for our sweet land of liberty, to increase who we include as us and decrease who we exclude as them. Perhaps.
Mr. Keillor proved to us that, by heart, we already know the words—but do we choose to join together in harmony and live by them?
As for me, I'm inspired to stand together with my fellow Earth travelers, which is why I continue to reflect on moments from my life—moments that are worth remembering; moments of fallibility that shape who I am and why I am; moments that mirror our collective desires and intimate experiences.
I share stories that reflect positivity principles with the hope you will see yourself mirrored in them and be inspired to see and understand how accessible and actionable they are. After all, we “love hearing about ourselves—so long as the people in the stories are us, but not us.”
What inspires you? And what do you do to engage in these things on a regular basis?
Hashtag Positivity can help you and the people you influence experience joy through change management coaching, leadership development workshops, and community engagement keynotes and assemblies. Connect with Jonas today to discuss your challenges, goals, and obstacles.
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.