2021 Vision – Inspiration

Inspiration /ˌɪnspəˈreɪʃn/

The act of breathing in; a positive force for creativity or motivation; a person or thing that makes you want to be better; a sudden good idea

Well the weekend was, as usual, a breath of fresh air, with a 20 mile cycle and a 5 mile walk, both taking advantage of life on the edge of the Cotswolds. Grey and windy as the weather sometimes is, it helps to have a regular routine with someone else to give you both the motivation to get out there. Now that I’ve had my first COVID-19 ‘jab’ on Monday, I’m hoping to be able, once again, to draw inspiration and motivation from the ability to travel… I’ll maybe not ‘hold my breath’ though, given the latest news on the coronavirus across Europe.

On Wednesday a great source of inspiration came from a long-awaited meeting with my European sport studies network friends and colleagues. Each has their own challenges with the current situation. In France, Germany and Spain, Covid spikes keep staff and students at home. In Romania and Italy it’s no better. In Telemark, Norway at least the studies and a degree of frilufstliv are able to carry on, but a spike in Oslo and an upcoming Easter break could still throw a spanner in the works.

Yet amidst all this, my friends continue looking after their students at home and abroad and are still planning for next year. They’re tired and frustrated but still each one carries on doing a great job.

Added to this, each has found the time to get approvals and signatures on our memorandum of understanding, making the network stronger than ever. There’s so much to be gained by this sort of collaboration and you can’t help but be motivated and inspired when you’re part of something bigger, something with a purpose. Team effort, team inspiration.

Students can be inspiring too, persevering with their studies in lockdown conditions, meeting deadlines, taking assessments, and often with other significant commitments at home and work. As much as I see these students as inspiring, I do hope they’re an example to other students of what can be achieved with persistence, imagination and a willingness to ask the right questions of the right people around you. And a belief in the value of trying. After all, trying is such a big part of learning.

And a final word this week on the inspiration that comes from looking at your own language from a different perspective. I’ve spoken English as my native language for… well… ever. I’ve played with it for years, thanks to an inherited sense of humour, a love of reading, time spent listening to others, and speaking on occasion without first engaging my brain. Yes, that one seems to get me into trouble or to raise a smile in equal measure. This article on Medium made me think again about what it is about English, and any other language, that’s important. In my view it’s utility.

My view of the utility of language, though, isn’t that of the engineer, or of the encyclop(a)edia but of a way to engage with others. If a bit of wordplay makes a connection it’s done its job, wherever you put the apostrophe. The weird deviations of spelling and grammar in the English language, I acknowledge (acnolidj?) are difficult. But then so are the cases of many other languages, the letters of some, the musical tones and rhythm, even the direction we read in. But doesn’t the inventiveness of language offer the potential to make life and conversation more varied, more inspiring, more engaging? Worth the effort.

English, like any other language evolves over time, but let’s not try to reinvent it. Let it take its course, and remember that even U-turns have a purpose when we realise we’ve gone too far. The pandemic has introduced and reintroduced words to the language that make meaning clearer or at least help us share and deal with the experience. Personally I’d be happy never to hear or use unprecedented again. But we can still have fun with the words we have, in our own individual ways, for as long as we have them, and be inspired to engage with each other.

Sea ewe necks tweak 😉

Published by John Humphreys

Education and leisure industry professional with over 30 years' experience and a focus on delivering international experiences and employability development.

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