Where does inspiration really come from? One might suggest that inspiration is merely a sensory reaction; a natural response to stimulus. It's true that we experience the world through our five senses of taste, touch, hearing, smell and sight, however these five senses alone don't seem to afford much more than a conduit through which experiences are realized. If we're going to study inspiration, we will need to invoke a 6th or deeper sense of perceiving.
"Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one" -Albert Einstein
We've all heard the term "perception is reality", which explains how two persons can look at something and perceive two completely different things. Interestingly, the latest findings in quantum theory suggest an even stranger truth to that age-old colloquialism: basically that all matter (the stuff everything is made of) isn't actually matter (doesn't exist as matter) until it is observed. See, I told you it was strange... Ok, no - we're not diving into quantum theory in this blog, but we will need to approach something a bit less tangible and perhaps more subjective, if we're going to better understand the source of inspiration.
Perception -vs- Reality
When you look at the black and white image adjacent, what do you see? Someone will say "it's an eye". Another might go beyond the obvious and poetically call it "a window into the soul". Most will agree that the eye seems extra glassy, which suggests an emotion such as sorrow, joy or longing. It's a remarkable image that has the power to evoke many different responses, but one objective truth remains: it isn't really an eye at all. It's only a drawing of an eye. It's just lead that has been manipulated on paper to mimic an eye.
Most can agree on what the artist has drawn simply by observation, but the depth in which we feel what the artist has drawn will be a unique perspective; an emotional response that could be described as its inspiration. Our emotions allow us to experience inspiration. Therefore, artists are in essence, manipulators of emotional response. If an artist creates an emotionally moving piece, it is often referred to as an "inspired" work of art.
Inspire by love
Inspiration being primarily an emotional response, it's necessary to look deeper into our feelings if we're going to contextualize and perhaps materialize new inspiration in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Have you ever heard of someone being inspired by hate? Hmmm, that doesn't sound quite right. Fueled by hate, perhaps - but not inspired by it... How about being inspired by fear? Nope, that doesn't seem to work either. What about someone who is inspired by joy? That sounds better... What about hope? Yep, now we're getting somewhere! Indeed, inspiration seems to flow flow best from the positive emotional realms; from places of joyful expectance and optimism.
Merriam-Webster defines inspiration as:
- to influence, move or guide by divine or supernatural influence.
- to breathe life into
- to exert an animating, enlivening or exalting influence
It's clear that our most enlivening influences are the source of inspiration - and these sentiments are what we aspire to the most; things like hope, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, etc... These highly sought-after gems of emotional sustenance are referred to in The Bible as the "fruit of the spirit". Religious or not, any self-aware human being aspires to these highest goods in daily life. It's therefore no surprise that inspiration is what we're all hungry for. But perhaps that hunger is symptomatic of a deeper, more essential need; one that's so very often snuffed out by the daily grind of life. That of love...
"What's love got to do with it?" - Tina Turner
Most will agree that seeking out new inspiration is often like chasing rainbows or orgasms. If you try to take captive that ultimate goal, you very often lose it. Inspiration seems to be that illusive glory that presents itself and then disappears as soon as we try to lay hold of it. Love works like that too. It works best when it is other-centered. If we seek out love selfishly, we seldom truly find it. Remarkably, it seems that inspiration flows most freely in the same environments as love; those places where the observer is wholly other-focused. My experience with inspiration is that it shows up in the most unexpected places - and mostly when I'm simply focusing on being present in the moment with no expectations for myself.
For example, while on a walk, enjoying God's creation I see inspiration everywhere! When I'm working on a project for a client or spending time with a loved one, if my focus is on them and not myself, inspiration reveals itself everywhere. If I had hoped for that special moment and searched for it all day, while putting myself in the center of my narrative, nothing inspiring happens. Plain and simple. Isn't it often that the most humble creatives are the most inspiring artists? They're great because they don't pretend to "own" the beauty that they create.
The creative genius recognizes the precious gift of an inspired work and thusly becomes a fellow spectator of even their own creation. An understanding that matchless beauty will not be claimed nor bound by ego is perhaps the beginning of creative genius, for truest inspiration is not to be held, but rather beheld.
Ever wondered why most are most interior designers are either females or gay males?
Think about it for a minute: Obviously it's not about sexual orientation, but rather emotional orientation.
Interior design is an art of creating inviting and functional environments. In order for environments to be inviting, they must be created with a sensitivity to emotional nuances evoked by color, texture, lighting, etc... For females, emotional nuances are much easier to discern. This innate ability is also proven to be true in homosexual males. The sensitivity to emotional nuance has been coined, "Emotional Intelligence" and it turns out, there are many ways to "tune-in" your emotion intelligence. Interestingly, the naturally creative person already exhibits a high emotional intelligence, which is likely the truer source of their artistic talent. If you'd like to learn more about your emotional intelligence, linked below is a good blog on the topic.
The wife and I said goodbye to 2014 in beautiful Asheville NC.
We don't have much extra money to spend on each other so birthday, anniversary and christmas gifts are often just cards, chocolates and kisses. This trip however was a worthy exception, in which we were able to celebrate our loves in so many ways. Inspiration was everywhere! I have every reason to believe that love was the reason we enjoyed so many wonderful and inspiring nuances on our little date excursion.
Perhaps I'm risking a loss of inspiration in this blog, by pointing to its source so blatantly, but I never lose hope. God knows my heart. So far I haven't found a reason to believe that anything other than love (God) is at the center of all inspiration; ever giving, ever emptying himself into anyone who will be so courageous, to do the same.
Happy New Year!
As we say goodbye to 2014 and dive head-long into the coming year, how will we go? I have plenty of evidence to suggest that we should go boldly, with selfless love at the center - and all else will follow....