Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who's The Inspiration?

My dad.

Today on Facebook, I noticed that there was an option in the profile section to select people who inspire me.  To be honest, I'm not sure I had an immediate answer.  I mean, I guess I do have an answer but it's not going to be Dr. King, Mother Teresa, or Ghandi, or someone profound (and, bluntly, obvious - with no disrespect intended).

Don't get me wrong.  Those are wonderful choices...if they're real and sincere.  Let's show our cards for uno momento.  Many people say those names because they don't know what else to say.  In short - it's phony.  I've seen some phoniness in my life (most recently today) and it makes me sick.


In the Facebook model, I'm allowed five inspirational choices.  So who are my choices?

I started thinking about it.  Religious leaders are, of course, out.  I respect certain members of the cloth (yes, I honestly do).  How can one not respect Mother Teresa?  Are you really that much of a heathen?  Politicians?  Possible.  George Washington was an incredible man.  Lincoln, of course.  Beyond that (and a few others)?  Meh.  Plus - seriously - do any of them inspire me?  No.

There isn't really one writer that has truly done it for me.  There isn't that one scribe who has made me read everything he or she has ever written.

Per Facebook, I can't pick average people.  So Mr. Durant (my 8th grade math teacher) or Mr. Peterson (9th grade science) and others can't be in this discussion.  Perhaps even my old baseball leader - Coach D'Aliso.  Man I loved playing for him, and he knew how to get the best out of me.

And, shameless though this will seem, Carrie inspires me.  So does Sean.  They both give me the impetus to get out of bed every day.  To keep moving forward.  To be a good man (and dad).  To find things to stretch my mind and theirs.  To make them laugh and smile.

Suddenly picking five wasn't so easy.  For the purposes of Facebook, I had to whittle down.


- Vin Scully.  Of course!  When in need of inspiration in the radio booth, one can always say "What Would Vin Do?"  It's a completely sane approach.  He inspired me to become the better prepared broadcaster that I am today.  He inspired me to let crowd noise wash over the radio, and hopefully find the best words to use to describe the moment.  I pay attention to his style, without hopefully ever sounding like a cheap knock-off.

Scully is the top banana in a collection of broadcasting inspirations, that really began with the old WABC guys (Ron Lundy and Dan Ingram) and Frank Messer (the Yankees' broadcaster - the first play-by-play guy I ever took note of).  Don Imus has played an enormous role in my building as a broadcaster, for his pacing, humor, and creativity.  Plus he's always had such a talented team around him, and I believe in doing that as well.  Scott Shannon, Red Barber, Dick Enberg, Doc Emrick, and on and on.

Yet there's Scully.

- Lou Gehrig.  Yes.  An athlete.  Gehrig is, to me, the way athletes should conduct themselves.  Gargantuan on the field, polite, gentlemanly, and decent off.  He was always humble and played the game of baseball as well as many of us ever wished we could.  A simple man - son of immigrants, he nonetheless attended Columbia (granted, he got help to get his foot in the door).  Still he went.  Most of all - when faced with the loss of his skills and inevitable much-too-soon death - he still told the world how lucky he was.  Seventy-two years later, those words can still make grown men cry.

- The Beatles.  I couldn't pick just John Lennon.  I couldn't pick just Paul McCartney.  I can't ignore George Harrison and Ringo Starr.  I picked them as one unit.  Before I knew to pick my own style (and eventually worked my way around to Huey Lewis and the News), the Fab Four was it.  They helped bring our country out of the funk of JFK's death, and showed us a whole new style of music perfected.  When their early sounds became too poppy and easy, they found new ideas.  They found themselves always reaching for more.  Can you hear any of their early work in works like "Strawberry Fields Forever?"  I would argue no other musical act has changed their core and still had such resoundingly amazing results.  Inspiring?  We still sing "Give Peace a Chance", and though that's John's song as a solo artist, it still resonates "All You Need is Love" and that's The Beatles.

After that, I was able to discover that Facebook gave me a little latitude.  So...

- Friends.  My friends have been a huge source of inspiration for me.  There are times when, for instance, I'm not feeling it here on the ol' blog train and friends will tell me - without knowing how I am feeling - that they love reading it and hope I keep going.  I feel charged up again.  My friends have inspired writing, broadcasts, parenting ideas, and simple pieces of life.  During my darkest moments, it's been my friends who have been there.

Which doesn't mean my family hasn't been mega huge.  At all.  And that brings me around to the biggest influence of them all:

- Dad.  I've talked about him so many times on here.  I still hurt over his loss, and it's been almost 22 years (next month).  I've told Carrie so much about him.  He hauled himself out of bed every day to drive a truck, making deliveries on his plumbing supply route in intense pain with knees and hips that had climbed out of a cheese grader.  He didn't finish high school.  He wanted all of that for me.  So I did, and made sure to go back and finish college long after he passed.  He inspired me to see the open road, and to make every moment as much fun as possible.  He inspired me to laugh - at everything - and not take everything so seriously.  He also inspired me to do things with dignity and class.  He taught me about style, and that there's a proper way to dress at proper times.  He inspired me to stand at attention until the very last note of "The Star Spangled Banner" (and I do - to this day, then point to the sky to remember him).  He inspired me to try to make people around me better and, if that wasn't possible, to at least leave them happy.  He made me a rule follower (within reason).

I owe him, my mom, and my siblings so much.  It is them, my friends, and those I am closest to that inspire me the most.  There are so many others, and I know I haven't even slightly represented them all.

Maybe that's why it wasn't so easy for me to pick five after all.

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