Nelson Mandela was a visionary, a revolutionist, a dreamer, a fighter, a prisoner and an inspiration.
When I heard of his passing yesterday, something I think most of us have known was coming for months, my heart hung in sadness at his loss. My thoughts went out to his family, his friends and his nation. He is one of the people who have inspired my generation. He has influenced my generation and hopefully changed my generation into one that will not allow the oppressions of the past to happen in the free world ever again.
He wasn’t perfect. After all, he support the Springboks. 😉 No one is perfect. No one.
However he followed through despite hardships to achieve freedom for people in South Africa and send a strong message to those suffering throughout the world that through sacrifice and perseverance sometime you can institute change.
I have this dream of sitting around a dinner table with people who inspire and fascinate me. Not because they are celebrities, world leaders or famous but because I would love to simply talk to them and to see how they, on a ground level, interacted with each other and me. Where would their conversations lead? What would they talk about? How grounded are they when the spotlight is taken away? Could they loose themselves enough to just “be themselves”? What kind of conversations would ensue? The mind boggles.
Many of the people I would have at my table are unconventional and unfortunately several of those I have been inspired by have passed on already.
Nelson Mandela, Sir Edmund Hillary, Bruce Lee, Freddy Mercury, Walt Disney, Charles Darwin. All people I admire for various reasons.
Sir Edmund Hillary I did get the chance to meet on several occasions. He was always very down to earth and a truly inspirational person. He cared so much about others that his selflessness was infectious. To sit down over a meal and have a chance to actually talk with him would have been an amazing and humbling experience I am sure.
Those still living I would love to sit, chat and have dinner with?
David Attenborough, Edward James Olmos, David Bowie, Magic Johnson, James Cameron, Stephen Hawkings, Peter Cullen …
Most of these people don’t fit in a conventional box and perhaps that’s part of their appeal for me. They are more than just that which they are famous for. They have voices and actions which resonate. They have done or said things that, as a nobody, I have been influenced by or stopped to think about in my life.
Without someone like David Attenborough I would not have taken the path I did to pursue my career as a geographer …
This is the kind of inspiration I am talking about.
To me there is a difference between being a fan and being inspired. Are these my all time favourite actors and musicians? With the exception of Edward James Olmos – no, not at all. These are the people I know I could sit down and talk to about more than just their craft or the weather outside; The people you could strip the celebrity away from and know they would still be inspiring to listen and converse with about any topic.
Who has inspired you? Who of them would you want to sit at a table and “just talk” over a nice meal or drink?