My Life Influences and Sources of Inspiration

It can be argued that who you are is a representation of the sum total of all your life’s interactions. You may have been born with certain predispositions, but you do become a product of your environment. Looking within myself, I find that many people I’ve never met in person have had a dramatic impact on the person that I have become. Each of these five men have taught me at least one great life lesson that I have taken to heart.

Bill Watterson

There is nothing more valuable than a child’s imagination.

The man behind Calvin and Hobbes was part of the reason why comic strips were actually my first writing-related ambition. It may have seemed like a children’s comic, but Calvin and Hobbes offers great insight into the human condition, the value of play, and why we shouldn’t let conventional boundaries restrain our possibilities. Imagination, at any age, is invaluable. And we must always endeavor to view the world in a different way, because “to invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.

Bob Barker

Know the value of a dollar and what it can buy.

One of my favorite TV shows growing up was The Price Is Right. I used to watch it with my grandma, even though she didn’t really speak any English. She did understand, though, that it involved shopping games and we were oftentimes tasked with knowing how much things cost. Some people will tell you that game shows like this are about greed, but I feel like it’s the complete opposite. The Price Is Right taught me that I should know the price of products, so I don’t get ripped off. By extension, it taught me the value of a dollar and it taught me the importance of smart budgeting. And even if you can’t get a hole in one, Bob’ll give a chance at a hole in two.

Tupac Shakur

A rose can grow from the concrete.

As I mentioned in the Sunday Snippet post last month, I can’t begin to claim that I had to face the same adversities that they rapped about, but I did make an emotional connection with the struggle. I grew up in a largely immigrant neighborhood and I was a victim of racism. While Tupac died far too young, what he did teach us is that anyone, even coming from the humblest of means and from the most violent of backgrounds, can emerge as an inspirational hero. He really is the rose that grew from the concrete.

Michael Crichton

Dare to challenge the limits of current knowledge.

The single greatest factor that drew me into the work of Michael Crichton was that he was able to ground his science fiction in real science. That’s why his novels are sometimes referred to as science fact. He did real research into what was possible and what was known in modern science and stretched it just a little bit. We knew that certain parts of the brain are associated with certain feelings or movements, so he went beyond that with The Terminal Man. We knew something of DNA, so he cloned dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. If nothing else, Crichton taught me that no matter how much we think we know, even more is always possible.

Anthony Bourdain

Be willing to try anything twice.

I used to hate Brussels sprouts. I tried it and I found it far too bitter. I avoided it for years and while I’m still not exactly a fan, I’ve grown not to dislike it. I gave myself the chance to “try it again,” prepared in a slightly different way and I have to say it’s not bad. Traveling all around the world and exploring the most exotic of cuisines, Anthony Bourdain is not afraid to eat anything. In fact, he’s not afraid to eat anything twice, because he might not like it the first time around. This philosophy can extend well beyond food too. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Twice.

Who Are Your Life Influences?

There are many other people who have affected my perspective on life and how I go about my daily business. These five men are just a small sample. What about you? What public figures have had the greatest impact in your life? Who has helped to shape you into the person you are today?