Wednesday, 26 January 2011

499 words about inspiration

My friend MeLissa has declared this “Inspiration Week” and has challenged people to talk about what inspires them. If you have the time, I wrote about 4000 words on this subject in a rambling, semi-sensical four-part series a little over a year ago. It’s not a list of cool stuff or places to find inspiration. It was a journey of discovery about how symbiotic faith and inspiration are. You can find them (in order) here, here, here and here.

But this post isn’t about that. In fact, I encourage you to leave now before you read what I have to say today about inspiration. It’s not what you’re hoping for. You might even get your feelings hurt. Really.

You’ve been warned.

We think of inspiration as a thing: a piece of art, a good book, an epic movie. But those things are just the catalysts for inspiration. Inspiration is our physiological, emotional and spiritual response to such catalysts. In one of those earlier posts, I gave the definition of inspiration. Here again:

1 the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative
• the quality of having been so stimulated, esp. when evident in something
• a person or thing that stimulates in this way
• a sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea
• the divine influence believed to have led to the writing of the Bible.

2 the drawing in of breath; inhalation.
• an act of breathing in; an inhalation.

Look at the first definition. It’s a process. Or the second: “the quality of having been so stimulated…” We sense something that elicits a response in us. Endorphins and adrenaline are released. Our breath quickens. Our hearts pound. A switch is thrown somewhere deep inside and suddenly we’re able to conquer the world. That’s inspiration. Not the thing that did it to us, but our response to the thing. And because we’re all unique we’re all uniquely inspired. The catalyst for one person is not necessarily the same for another. So you could show me cat pictures and illustrations of robots and girls holding hands and I might not feel a thing. (I know. I’m a cold-hearted B. But I’m also thirty-eight with four kids. It’d be creepy if such things inspired me.)

Which makes me think, “Inspiration is a crap-shoot.” It’s entirely subjective to the beholder, and it changes day to day. I.E.: When I was twenty-five I told Seth Worley that “The Crow” was an awesome movie. I was INSPIRED by it. Now I think, “gosh, it’s really dark, and kind of thin, too.” So not only are the catalysts different and unique for each individual, they change constantly.

I don’t know if I like that. This idea that I’ve held so loftily for so long now seems a bit…fickle.

I am a believer in inspiration. True believer. And I want to share with you in the beauty and truth of inspiration.

But that part comes later.

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