This is kind of a sappy post. Cope, a guy is allowed to occasionally show a feeling or two.
Inspiration comes in many forms in our game. You say inspiration, and people immediately think of that moment at the beginning of a tournament when they say "salute the one who inspires you this day"... but there are far more forms of inspiration than that.
That is not to say that my lovely wife doesn't inspire me... she does. She is among the kindest and most caring people in this world, and you would be hard pressed to find a more trustworthy individual. She keeps me sane (sane-ish, anyway) and on the path of light. There are, however, many people whom I have drawn inspiration from to better myself in this game we play.
In the early days, I was overwhelmed by stories of legends. Master Tearlach, Duke Randall, Master Allyn, Duke Lucan... they all took on mythic proportions, giants whose mention I marveled at, figures whose prowess was the stuff of legend. I strove at that point not to equal or surpass their prowess, but to learn what I could from the stories... I was not able to travel much in those days (travel is still pretty limited, actually) and I fed off tales of these men. When I did finally meet some of them, I was not disappointed... Tearlach thumped people soundly and dispensed sage advice in between fights ("you need to not freeze like a deer in headlights and get run over like that!"). Master Allyn was friendly and inviting, quick with an encouraging word or cautionary tale, and made even the most unimportant of us feel like we mattered.
Others did not take on mythic proportions, but were no less influential. Thorson was my first authorization fight, and observing him over the years has made me want to always have this game be fun. Though an excellent fighter, Thorson always seems to be able to not take the game too seriously, and know when a bit of silliness was necessary.
Elezar was my first inspiration to make my gear look better... when I saw his leather lorica I thought it was the coolest thing, and it was when the light bulb went on and I said "Oh! I can look good AND kick ass!" Ishido was a model for me of working for the Northern Army... playing with tactics, training for the task at hand, and executing it effectively.
I went through the stage of my SCA career where, as any new convert, I tried to convert people to my new found faith... in my case, the path of authenticity. I quickly came to realize... wow, I was being a douche. I instead tried to lead by example... I focused on my gear, and tried to help people improve theirs when they sought my help. Trying to shove my vision of how things SHOULD be made me no better than the people who were telling me to drop all that heavy metal crap I was wearing because it was not good in our game.
A few years ago, there was a ruling handed down at the Society level to improve the overall look of the Society... making people cover their plastic armour, sports gear and logos. There was a lot of hullabaloo about it... on both sides of the issue.
I was actually one person who did not like the ruling... not because I don't want people's gear to improve... I do... but because of how it was being done. Lead by example, not by mandate...One person who Stood out as an example to me during this time... Sir Stephen Grandchamp. He pledged to not only improve his gear, but charged his House to do the same as well, and they have risen to the challenge, several of them getting their gear together to participate in the Battle of Hastings battle at Pennsic. This struck me as such an excellent example... a man of status leading his people to set an example for others. Sir Stephen has always been an inspiration... his hospitality and kindness in opening his property for the Opening and Closing of the Inne at Coldwood is one example. This act simply added to that.
There are many others... too numerous to mention. I wish I could mention everyone, but alas... I can not. I do apologize to anyone I’ve missed, but... you, my friends, are not the type to take offense at such things. That’s another reason you inspire me.