Inspiration strikes, hits, stuns. Inspiration seems, as we speak of it, to be rather violent. According to Merriam-Webster Online, inspiration is “something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force or influence that inspires someone.” Bossy little bugger, that inspiration!
And yet, inspiration is anything but violent; sudden, perhaps, but not violent. I sampled a variety of inspirational quotes and looked for similarities between them. For instance,
- Life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. –Charles Swindoll
- You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. –Wayne Gretzky
- Fall seven times and stand up eight. –Japanese Proverb
Tenacity, persistence, compromise, clarity of purpose; these are some of the elements, it seems, of inspiration. Perhaps, then, when inspiration strikes, it’s less of a baseball bat to the head and more a ray of light illuminating an idea, goal, or desire. Inspiration, I might argue, is the acknowledgement of a purpose or the opening of self to possibilities.
My taste in inspirational quotes has changed over the years, as have the things that inspire me. This quote by Joss Whedon hits me in a visceral way, whereas the words we often see, accompanying glossy crew team photos, hanging in corporate conference rooms everywhere, make me groan (there might be occasional eye-rolling, too). Why does Joss Whedon inspire me, but not “There is No “i” in Team”? Purpose and sincerity, I suspect. Perhaps true inspiration is unique to the individual, and shines light on those things or ideas we might pursue or initiate as individuals; we may create, solve, lead, or invent, which might in turn inspire others to create, solve, lead, or invent. While groups of people can and do share and collaborate in the pursuit of a common passion, I think they are each inspired differently, and that’s a beautiful thing. (I suspect the poster will have little to do with success, but maybe it will inspire someone.)
When we think of inspiration in terms of striking, hitting, or stunning, is it because we notice inspiration when it appears suddenly, when it’s the creative version of switching on the overhead light in a dark room? Boom! Light! But, there’s also the subtle inspiration that grows slowly, like a seed planted in the recesses of our brains, gently extending roots and shoots, leaves unfurling, until the thing is so large, it simply can’t be ignored or overlooked, and we acknowledge the thing for the quiet inspiration that it is. We talk of ideas percolating, floating, flitting around ghost-like, all gentle concepts. Perhaps ideas are merely inspirations that arrive quietly, like a butterflies landing. That we call inspiration is the thing when it roars in like a Bugatti, fresh off a time trial at the nearest race track, all zoom! and growl! and rumble! Whether butterfly or Bugatti, idea or inspiration, the outcome is often something beautiful: art, music, writing, innovation.
November brings two of my favorite events with it: my birthday and Crimebake (the New England Sisters in Crime conference). Whether they flit or roar, I’m betting November is going to offer many ideas and inspirations. My mind is wide open and ready, and I can’t wait for them to arrive.