Paying Inspiration Forward: Maya, My Book & Your Dream
May 29, 2014
I considered many things while working on my upcoming book. Who was it for? What story was I trying to tell? What would people think of it, and of me?
There is one thing that did not occur to me during my endless contemplation: the impact the book would have on people before they ever read a single word.
While many friends and family members have reached out to congratulate and encourage me, I was surprised to realize how many people are inspired by the simple fact that I published a book. Not to diminish the accomplishment, but I have been so focused on the body of work and whether readers will enjoy it, that I did not consider it might have a purpose beyond reading. I now know that for some, it is a symbol of hope and a reminder that dreams do come true.
It is not hard to lose faith. We can tire of desiring that which seems unattainable. We can grow weary of aching for something out of the ordinary. We can internalize our failure and succumb to our fear. We can lose sight of the dream as we walk through the fog of reality. We can decide, consciously or otherwise, to smother the desire and ignore the ache.
We forget that coping mechanisms are bandages and not cures. There is still a desire to chase a dream, still an aching for a moment in which we achieve our personal definition of greatness. We are reminded each time a friend goes public with their dream, every time an acquaintance decides to give it the old college try, and even when a stranger does the extraordinary. Just like that, there is a stirring.
The desire is rekindled and the dull ache becomes a sharp pain. Something suggests that the person who realized their dream is no more special than us. Something suggests that we each have a unique dose of ‘special’ on the inside, a customized gift, talent, or passion that enables us to accomplish the very thing for which we yearn. We rightly reason that if he or she can reach for the stars, why can’t we?
Yes, if a young black girl who read books in a segregated library in Stamps, Arkansas, could grow up to read her original poetry on a world stage at a presidential inauguration, perhaps we can also achieve the impossible. If she could reclaim the very thing tragedy once stole – her voice – and later use it to heal strangers, maybe we also can repurpose our pain for greater good.
Yet we need not be as brilliant and renowned as Dr. Maya Angelou to inspire. Maybe you have said, “If Sheryl could dream of writing books as a child and make the decision to publish one as an adult, I can realize my own childhood dream.” And if my publishing a book can inspire you to take a leap of faith, who knows what your actions could encourage the next person to do?
Inspiration is contagious. Dr. Angelou passed it on and still does so even in death. The people I know who have published books were a source of motivation to me. This post and my book are my way of paying that inspiration forward. I hope you catch it, and pass it on.
SheryLeigh is a woman who loves God, words, and people. She is currently living and loving as an author, blogger, poet, and spoken word artist in the Washington, D.C., area.
A communicator by education and trade, SheryLeigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Howard University and a Master of Arts in Management from Webster University.