MONICA HEISEY Writer
Monica Heisey discovers that #inspo isn’t about hanging in there, baby!
THE GIG This Torontonian has the ELLE Canada office in stitches with her new humour column. OPA! “I was recently on a romantic trip to Greece with my husband, watching the sunset and stroking what I presumed was his arm. It turned out to be the hairy Greek man beside me. According to local custom, he is now my husband. Stavros is a gentle lover.”
I’ve never really bought the “Hang in there” cat.
You know what I’m talking about, right? A tiny kitten suspended from a tree branch with nothing to save it but its tiny kitten paws. The image is supposed to be inspirational and is most commonly seen on posters—the kind hung in dentists’ offices and your worst co-worker’s cubicle, next to a cartoon about coffee and a meme printed off the Internet about how everyone hates Mondays.
Let’s face it: That kitten is doomed. He’s faced with certain death—presumably a ring of firefighters holding a kitten-soft safety blanket and gently but firmly encouraging the little guy to jump to safety is not just out of frame—so the words “Hang in there” are a pretty limp offering. Best-case scenario, the poster is a dark, existential joke: Hang on for as long as you can, but eventually the kitten gets it and so do you.
This is the problem I have with most inspirational quotes and sayings: They fail to inspire anything in me but quiet rage. “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” says a poster in the gym change room. Basic math will tell you that this is not the case! “Shoot for the moon! Even if you miss, you will land among the stars” a mug once told me. No offence, mug, but “landing among the stars” would realistically involve floating forever into a terrifying blackness, like Sandra Bullock in Gravity if Cloonz had never found her. A recent Internet search for “inspirational quotes” uncovered this perplexing bon mot: “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience.” Ooookay. It’s very “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?” And, no, Katy Perry, I do not.
It’s not that I don’t want to be inspired. I am a person who has quite literally wept at the sight of a very beautiful sunset. I’ve been known to get into a chill mantra during yoga. I’ve flirted with the idea of a “vision board.” I just don’t know what I’d put on it, because so far no one has made a poster that says “If you do this thing you hate right now, you can have that food you like later.” Where is the T-shirt that reads “Success is 10% perspiration, 10% coffee, 11.5% answering your mother’s phone calls.... To be honest, it is a very complex equation and we’d be doing a disservice to the effort involved by reducing it to a pithy oversimplification”? The day I find a framed image of a woman opening the door to a party accompanied by the words “You don’t owe anyone bad small talk,” I promise I will buy that image. But for now, I’m stuck.
The most inspiration I’ve ever found has arrived not in illustrated platitudes or made-you-think memes but the garbled, barely sensical ramblings of group texts or late nights with friends. My little sister once texted me “SISTERS ARE THE BEST!!!!111” at 4 a.m. on a Tuesday, and she was right, and I was inspired to be a better sibling. A friend recently confessed that she had, straightfaced, told her boyfriend “Just let me be a freak for you” and I was inspired to be my full lunatic self, in and out of the bedroom. My dad often eats spaghetti straight out of a large salad bowl, and I’m inspired to likewise stick it to vegetables and carbload because kale is not the boss of me.
Look, if you have ever felt like a plastic bag, drifting through the wind, wanting to start again, that’s your business and not mine. I won’t judge where you get your inspiration, fitspiration or anything else. But if, like me, you’re finding the available options a little tedious, there’s a way to avoid cliché: Realize that true inspiration has been inside you all along.