Inspired to a fairly shallow depth

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    You can find them anywhere-in the chiropractor's office, the office conference room, maybe your New Age friend's family room. They are motivational posters. They generally feature a beautiful nature photograph, anything from a peaceful woodland scene to polar bears frolicking on an iceberg, and a saying. The saying is supposed to inspire you to become a better you. Let's start with the simplest of them -- "Dream it." If I wasn't so sardonic, I'd be confused. I spent the first 17 years of my life being told, "Get your head out of the clouds." Now I'm supposed to dream? How about this one, which I came across at, well, never mind where I saw it. It said, "Ability may get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there." Oh, puh-leeze. Do these poster manufacturers think we don't watch the news? Should we play ‘Name the indicted CEOs?' It takes wiliness to keep you there. How about this one: "What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." Okay, nice sentiment. But have you seen some of the first-tier American Idol contestants? Conceiving and believing are fine, but out-and-out lack of talent can occasionally get in the way of achievement. And this one made me laugh: "The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible." Okay. Let's start with the extremely simple, yet impossible. For instance, I cannot change the kitchen light bulb without a step stool or a ladder. I could spend all day leaping and reaching and muttering "You can do it!" to myself, and only two things would happen. My family would think I was insane, and I would have wasted the day defining the limits of the possible, which we already knew. Imagine how tickled my ironic self was to find . These folks make the same kind of high-resolution posters with the exact same kind of high quality, idyllic photographs on them. But the sayings are a little different. My favorite was: "Get back to work. You're not being paid to believe in the power of your dreams." And then there's one that features a gravity-defying salmon bounding over a waterfall and into a polar bear's waiting maw. It says: "Ambition: Sometimes the journey of a thousand miles ends very, very badly." Now these posters may not be particularly motivational. Well, okay. They're not at all motivational. But you have to admire the elegant truth they contain. And, as the clever folks at Despair, Inc., point out: "If a pretty poster and a cute saying are all it takes to motivate you, you probably have a very easy job."