On being ... inspirational

By Ingrid Sapona

I used to be active in an international law group. One of the most interesting people I met through that group was a Mexican lawyer named Eduardo. To be honest, I don’t remember how or why we got to know each other, in particular. What I do remember, however, is that one day, more than a dozen years ago, I got an invitation from Eduardo’s wife to a surprise party for his 40th birthday. I was quite surprised I was invited, because I didn’t know him that well. But, I was intrigued (the party was in Mexico) and I went.

The three-day event was more like a wedding than a birthday party, with a couple hundred guests. It was easily the most magical celebration I’ve ever attended, with a bull fight, a parade, multiple mariachi bands, and even fireworks. I could go on-and-on about it, but that party is peripheral to this column.

Having had such a wonderful time in Mexico, I was tickled when I got an invitation the next year to a surprise party for Eduardo’s wife’s birthday. The invitation was in Italian and was adorned with a wooden coin featuring the profile of what looked like a Roman goddess. Though my Italian was minimal, I figured out that it was an invitation to a toga party at a villa on the Appian Way. So, a few months later I packed my toga and sandals (I knew Eduardo well enough to know that it was a costume affair) and off I went to Rome. At the party I found out that the profile on the coin was of Eduardo’s wife – yes, he had them specially made!

In the years since, I’ve gotten many other invitations to parties hosted by Eduardo. Every time I see his name in the return address on an envelope, I catch my breath in anticipation. Besides choosing locations that engage one’s sense of adventure, the invitations themselves are creative and inspiring.

The parties always have an underlying theme -- like celebrations of love (that was a trip to India, featuring a visit to the Taj Mahal), friendship, family, and spiritual journeys. The themes are always elaborately addressed in words, poetry, pictures, and even music. The Africa trip, for example, was called a Journey to Neverland. The idea behind that celebration was a reawakening of your soul and the invitation was on a DVD wrapped in a leopard-print fabric.

Though I haven’t been to one of Eduardo’s parties for some time, we’ve stayed in touch. Over the years I’ve realized that Eduardo has a rare talent for connecting with people and once you’ve made a connection -- it’s for life. He has a generous spirit and he shares his life, his zest for living, and his spirituality with everyone he meets.

A couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from Eduardo with a subject line that simply read: Incredible! On first reading, I had a hard time understanding it. He said he felt compelled to share with me an e-mail that someone sent to him because -- given that I’m in Toronto -- the thought somehow I was “partly responsible”. Not having a clue what he was talking about, I scrolled down and read an e-mail from a woman in Toronto.

Apparently, at a garage sale last summer that woman bought a DVD -- Eduardo’s “Journey to Neverland” from 2006. She went on to tell a moving story about how Eduardo’s heart-felt writing inspired her to resurrect her childhood dream of going to Kenya. She also mentioned how the timing of her “finding” the DVD was particularly significant to her, as she had lost her mother recently. She tracked Eduardo down and e-mailed him to thank him for inspiring her and touching her heart.

In reading that e-mail, I was intrigued but I didn’t think it had anything to do with me because, until this year, I had never sold anything at a garage sale. Not only that, I was pretty sure I had saved Eduardo’s DVD, so it couldn’t have been mine she bought. To prove it to myself, I went to find my copy of it.

I looked everywhere, but I couldn’t find it. When my search turned up the leopard-print fabric it came wrapped in but no DVD, I realized that in the spring of 2007 I had probably thrown the DVD away when I was packing in anticipation of moving later that year. But, she said she bought the DVD at a garage sale. So, the only explanation is that someone pulled my copy out of the trash and sold it. I know it sounds far-fetched, but given that in my old building we put our trash in a shed at the back of the building, not a dumpster, it’s quite possible someone garbage picked it. So, Eduardo’s assessment of the whole being incredible is not just apt, it’s an understatement.

Clearly, there were a number of things I could have titled this column, starting with On being … unbelievable, because, as Eduardo said, the story certainly is. It could also be On being … interconnected, because it shows how technology is bringing the world together (given that Eduardo’s inspiration to that woman was transmitted via DVD and given that she tracked him down and thanked him via e-mail).

Ultimately, however, I decided on the title I did because I agree with Eduardo’s assessment that this story shows how in everything we do we have the power to change, impact, and move the world -- and I find that thought pretty inspiring!

© 2008 Ingrid Sapona


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