Monday, February 27, 2012




Inspire. I love that word. It’s from Latin in + spirare meaning to breathe. Just hearing the word gives me the impulse to sit tall and take a deep breath of air. I imagine that the air I’m breathing has soared the treetops, drifted over rippling streams, whirled around crowds in city streets, brushed the faces of flowers. Breathing in, I take in the world.

Breathing is life. Relaxing or running, singing or sobbing, in rhythms as ancient as the world, we inhale, replacing the stale with the fresh. Which is why we talk about inspiration as a precursor to creativity. Our souls need to inhale ideas, experiences, and emotions the way our lungs need to inhale air. We need to replace the stale with the fresh. When I feel creatively stale or discouraged and need a fresh breath, I can always find inspiration in solitude, in books, and in the wisdom of people who have walked the path ahead of me.

I’m an introvert, so being social depletes my energy. To regain energy and renew creativity, I need solitude. Sitting and watching nature inspires me as does contemplating the mysteries of the spiritual world. I enjoy pondering a world that lies beyond ours but so near we could see, hear, and smell it if only our senses were tuned to its wave-length.

Reading excellent books, fiction or nonfiction inspires me. Some of my favorite writers are Ursula LeGuin, whose fantasy worlds and characters feel real, and Lois McMasters Bujold, whose prose is gorgeous. I’ve always loved the lyrical language of Margaret Wise Brown and the whimsical prose of Arnold Lobel. When language sings with rhythm and melody, I get inspired and say, “I want to do that.”

I also collect inspiring quotes from wise people and read them when I need inspiration. Here are a few that never fail me:

“It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your dreams on the line, to hold them up and say, ‘How good or how bad am I?’” - Erma Bombeck

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all Time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.” - Martha Graham to Agnes DeMille

“You can never control whether your writing efforts will be successful, but you can control whether they will be enjoyable or satisfying.” - Jane Smiley, 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel

So find your sources of inspiration. Then inhale, sync your soul to the rhythms of life. And be inspired.

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