May 22, 2020

On Inspiration

I've been inspired before, but never paid much attention to how it works or where it comes from. Mostly I just took it for granted, using it toward whatever churn I was invested in at the time.

On Inspiration

For most of my adult life, I've relied on momentum to keep me going, to keep me productive, and to give my life purpose. But now? That momentum is broken. And the longer this pandemic goes on, the more I realize that I may never get it back.
This realization has brought me to a place where I'm learning the ways of that mysterious force called 'inspiration'.

These days, the moments where I feel like I'm achieving flow are those in which I've found some inspiration - even just a spark - and am able to gently fan it into combustible creative action.

I've been inspired before, but never paid much attention to how it works or where it comes from. Mostly I just took it for granted, using it toward whatever churn I was invested in at the time.

Unfortunately, I have discovered that inspiration is not something you can artificially generate. In fact, the harder you try to goose inspiration into showing up, the less likely it will happen. You know - the chasing a butterfly thing.
Finding the courage to sit still, be open, and wait for inspiration - having faith that it will return to perch on my shoulder - is an exercise in self-mastery and patience. This is made even more challenging by the my famously inherent lack of patience, the insane circumstances swirling around me in the world, and the relentless stream of information and media which occupies my days.

Ugh.

That said, through experimentation these few months, there are some things I've discovered that consistently prime me for inspiration:

First, meditation has become an indispensable practice. That is, the ability to simply sit and be even for a short period each day, experiencing each moment fully and having no expectations. My mind, constantly chasing butterflies, becomes still - and provides a perfect spot for inspiration to alight. It's a gift I give to myself. The gift of time, and of being fully alive, as I am. Sweet moments of BEING, savored and known, above and beyond belief.

Second, spending time in nature and allowing my mind and body to relax there, to fully experience the sounds, color and shapes of the natural world (even if it's in a park nearby my house). Without trying to understand or explain things, without inquisition or definition - simply being with the trees and birds, lizards and rabbits - has provided completely unexpected and novel sparks of inspiration. I've experienced wonder more in the last couple months than I have in the last few years - and over seemingly mundane things.

Finally, poetry and music have been my faithful friends during this time. They prod my consciousness into opening, lead me down paths of contemplation, and remove the barriers of dogmatic thought and my own ideas about what is real and possible. In the arms of great poets and musicians, I've found inspiration that transcends intellect and resonates with my whole self.

So I want to ask you - where are you finding inspiration these days? What are the things that are taking you out of your 'self' and providing you with the raw energy you need to do create and work productively?