I attended an open mike session last week, a local event where writers and wanderers meet to share their works. I hadn’t been to one in a over a year and as I sat and listened to a variety of people share their writs, I realized that I had been shorting myself. Hearing the voices of others and watching their passion burn for the phrases they carefully constructed inspired me and challenged me. Here is a perspective on love from a young just – twenty- ish man, there is a young woman wrestling with the conflict of how society tells her to act and dress, and what she knows to be true about herself. An older man muses over a day in the life of a golf ball, a Mrs. Dalloway kind of narration. The phrase ‘electrostatic syncopation’ is tossed out in the course of a monologue like a bean bag, it was a gem to me. A small opal that popped among the rocks, I wanted to pick it up and bring it home (apparently I did). I left the night refreshed and full of creative energy. I thought about one of my mantras: Creativity begets Creativity. I became acutely aware of the Importance of Being Inspired.
The Bohemian Art Loft
Inspiration feeds the artist’s soul and without it we will starve. We give out a lot you know. Mr. E. Hemingway put it best when he described his take on being a writer, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Any artist can relate, we could well replace the verb ‘writing’ with ‘painting’ ‘sculpting’ ‘composing’ ‘playing’ ‘dancing’ ‘acting’ ad infin. We invest immense amounts of energy in our work and that energy must be replenished from somewhere and on a regular basis. I made a promise to myself to attend more open mike nights as a means of replenishing my creative wells and keeping my writer’s mind inspired.
Because the Importance of Being Inspired has been foremost in my thoughts this past week, I noticed how often I tend to subconsciously replenish my soul with other creative forces. Music of course. Always there is music. My morning shower and workout tracks are chosen for their ability to immediately quench my thirst for energy, get my neurons firing, and set off ideas to bounce around in my head the rest of the day. A treasured painter friend will sometimes let us in on what he’s listening to as he delves out himself with each stroke of the brush or scrape of the pencil.
Nature constantly provides Inspiration for the artist’s soul. Monet fixated on light as his inspiration and painted the same church from the same angle at different times of the day, recording its varying hues and tones, its changing mirage and shadows. The result is a symphony of paintings that have gone on to do some hefty Inspiring themselves. How many poems have the stars inspired? How many similes have we managed to come up with for the movement of clouds across the sky? Nature is infinite in its beauty, its nuances can be fleeting, a small shadow can make all the difference – we artists agonize over a way to capture them. What right combinations of words can describe the way a river is lit by the sun? What color mixture will I need to ensnare the way the sky looks after a summer storm?
Words inspire. Great speeches have changed the course of history. Beautiful novels remind us that resolution is always possible. Poems etch out a new facet to an object or an idea. Words challenge us to consider a thing. They challenge us to make a decision. They challenge our prejudices and our secrets – and whether we agree or not – we are stronger for the challenge.
The strength of an artist, I’ve come to learn, is in his ability to understand the Importance of Being Inspired. We can not create something from nothing after all. Bleeding and starving, insomniatic and obsessed, agonized and tortured – we must nourish ourselves with the work of others and the work of nature – or we starve. And the songs start to sound the same, the books end up with the same plot line, or the paintings become the same fruit bowls.
Here’s to Inspiration kids…may we seek it, may it find us, may we be more aware of it. Who knows what creative wells we might discover? Who knows what great works might be produced? Who knows who we might Inspire ourselves?