Inspiration comes to you suddenly, a gentle ribbon floating through the air. It’s often like the scent of chocolate cake wafting through a warm kitchen, through the living room, and upstairs, finding an unassuming citizen in their tucked away corner, hungry for dessert. It’s funny how these things happen…”What should I write about?” turns into “What can I not write about?” as the world opens itself up to our imagination. Creative discovery happens to us all. Last week I facilitated a journal free writing activity for ten 7 and 8 year-olds. Two students hesitantly made journals and only participated when I told them they could climb a tree and write amongst the branches. But by the next day they were begging for more journal time and said to me, “I am so glad you made me write! I didn’t realize how fun it is!” Even the youngest amongst us can delve into the wonders of verbal expression, finding their own voice and expressing their passions by putting a pen to paper.
Just as Nature is a constant inspiration for the roving naturalist, the world is at the fingertips of a writer, just waiting to be explored. As our writer minds sort out the beauty we experience every day, as miners pan out gold, we highlight the pieces of the world that shine the brightest. It may be a single green leaf, opaque in its chlorophyll-induced haze, a window for bright sunlight to pass through and diffuse into a green glow, lighting the path of an overhanging canopy green or serving as the roof of a dappled green bug fort. Or it may be the colors of a sunset from the top of a mountain, overwhelming in its splendor. It may be the slow lapping of a wave against the shore. Or perhaps the warmth of a stranger’s smile.
As we live more attuned to the essence of the world and its sensory pulse, we live ready to receive. Ready to transcribe our experiences and interactions with others into words, pictures constructed with letters and punctuation. After all, at the end of the day, we are merely individual humans, our whole lives constructed by interactions with other beings. Wrapped up in these interactions and observations comes a deep yearning to make meaning of our experiences. For some, this meaning is expressed through writing, others drawing, others music, the creative process becoming a way to express the beauty we experience in our lives. Expression ebbs and flows, sometimes strong and overwhelming, sometimes only coming as a trickle of inspiration, but all are attempts at making sense of our experiences and bringing more beauty into our lives.
Maybe you learn most from the sight of an ant colony transporting food, teaching you about strength and resourcefulness, maybe inspiration comes while the trees turn colors in autumn, teaching you about slowing down and storing away what’s important to you at certain times of the year and keeping it safe. Maybe you are inspired by observing bird mates alternating their watch of fledglings in the nest and their search for food, teaching you the value of nurturing and protecting those you love. Or maybe you are moved by the sight of a crow pecking in a gutter and then spreading its wings to land at the top of a Big Leaf Maple, teaching you to be scrappy but also revealing the resilience of nature living amongst humans.
As we learn these lessons for ourselves, these lessons from the world that help us go about our days as individuals, we become more equipped to cope with surprises. And as we meet other humans, layered with their own experiences and observations, we learn from them as well and integrate their gifts into our own beings. We come to love them, we nurture them, we are challenged by them, we laugh with them, and we hug them. But at the end of the day, we are here alone as individual hearts, left with our own thoughts and lies and gifts and compliments and lessons learned. And most of all, we are left with only our own abilities to receive meaning, like dandelion messages on the wind. We pick out what inspires us, reflect on it, and move on, ready for the next ribbon of inspiration.
so the question I ask you today is:
where have you found everyday inspiration?
I was inspired to write on this topic after watching this TED lecture by author Elizabeth Gilbert.