Wednesday, March 19, 2014
"It's lack that gives us inspiration. It's not fullness."
What does it mean, exactly, to be "inspired?" It's a word that is thrown about by literati, artists and musicians alike. It is a word that rests in the pocket of every (lucky) passerby on the street. It is found all over tumblr, in pretty little graphics that are undoubtedly pastel in nature. Those graphics make their way to Twitter, to Facebook, they're captured in screenshots and posted to Instagram. For those among us who have been lucky to feel, however fleetingly, inspiration, those graphics remind us of better days, or maybe heighten the emotions we are already feeling.
But WHAT IS IT?!
Inspiration is akin to love, in that it's deeply felt, many times temporary, and somehow always escapes description. It's "indescribable"in that cliche way that boggles the minds of poets and painters, because it truly can not be seen, it can not be described, visually or otherwise. It can only be FELT.
Ah, the frustration of these human FEELINGS!
What's worse than not being able to describe it, even worse than not being able to draw it, or paint it, or sing it, is not being able to feel it. Like love, it isn't something that you miss until one day, it's gone. GONE. You look for it in books, you look for it in the National Gallery of Art near the Monets and the VanGoghs (because if it isn't there, it must have truly disappeared). You check for it in your favorite playlist, outside on a nice spring day (if it's available). Nothing. In desperation, you start looking for it in crowded bars, among the music and lights and general noise of it all. At this point, you're at the point of giving up the search, because really? In a bar? The only things you're likely to find there are sticky floors and inappropriately wandering hands.
The saddest part is, YOU ALREADY KNOW THIS.
This is a journey that you've taken before. If you're a writer or an artist, it's probably an epic journey that you take often. If you're not, you may not even realize what it is you're searching for. You might make a mistake and THINK that you're searching for love. WRONG. You might think that you're just searching for your next adrenaline rush. WRONG. It's inspiration, people. You're looking for that flighty little fiend, the fairy of the old stories that makes you happy in one moment and miserable in the next.
And yet, despite the stress and despair, we continue the search. WHY?
Well honestly, I'm pretty sure it's the same reason that we continue to chase love, and that still more elusive dream, happiness. Because it feels good. Yes, it all comes down to the basic human desire to feel good. Not to mention, inspiration is a powerful tool. Inspired people invent awesome new technology, they write beautiful books that impact our hearts and minds. These people create music so profound that years later, generations later, we'll still remember it. Who wouldn't want some of that?
I know that I do.
I know what you're thinking. "You've presented a problem with no solution! Where is this 'inspiration' that you speak of? I want some!" I know friend, I want some too. I've come to a realization though, and I used Ray Bradbury's quote as the title for a reason. "It's lack that gives us inspiration. It's not fullness." That empty feeling that you have? It's on the journey to fulfillment that you'll find your inspiration. It's the struggle, and the sadness, and the search that provide the spark with which great American novels are spawned.
Maybe you won't write the next Grammy Award-winning song, or paint the next Mona Lisa. Maybe I won't either. But maybe, if you raise your children with inspiration, or influence someone that crosses your path, they will.