Sunday, July 17, 2011

Living Life with Inspiration

photo credit: Idea go

Inspiration is all around us. You just have to pay attention. It's easy to get caught up in Life's day-to-day grind. Going through the motions without stopping to live it. Everyone does it now and again. No one is perfect at being self-aware. (Not even Buddhist Monks!) It takes practice and dedication and it's something I personally strive for.

Nothing illustrates this more for me than where my last two inspirations came from.

The first came suddenly to me while sitting on public transit. It was at the end of a long work day and I was sitting in my uncomfortable seat daydreaming out the window. My forehead pressed against the glass, my eyelids dropping heavily as I struggled to stay awake. The bus jerked to a halt on the same bridge I crossed everyday, twice a day without thought. Suddenly as I sat there staring at the river below, its surface still partially covered with ice, an idea sprang to my mind and a story formed. I grabbed my notebook and pen (I don't leave home without something to write in) and began drawing out the rough outline of my next short story. I had crossed that bridge countless of times and yet on this day the idea came forth when I was listening. How many times had it tried to penetrate my thick fog and failed?

The second idea also came suddenly. No word of a lie, I was sitting in a funeral for a friend's father. Perhaps I should explain that in my 32 years I had only attended one funeral previously. Both funerals just happened to have been for friend's parents. My experience on how such events worked was limited. Naturally I was curious. Where does the family sit? What is said? Who is in attendance? Etc. I found myself people watching, meaning no disrespect. 

An older woman settled in her seat after the service began and slowly started unpacking what at first appeared to be a radio with earphones attached. (I later realized it was most likely an amplifier) An image popped into my head and my next story was born. Unfortunately I was unable to write it down (a little inappropriate given the circumstances) so I replayed the idea over and over in my head making sure I wouldn't miss a detail.

Inspiration is all around us.

My advice to anyone who says, I'm not creative enough to write. I have no ideas!,  is open your eyes! Look around!
That old woman sitting at the bus stop, what's her deal? Who do you think she is? Can you picture what her life has been like?

Or that teenager that wears all black in the insufferable heat. Why do you think he dresses like that? Is he trying to make a statement? Or does he have some rare condition that prevents him from keeping his core temperature up and dressing in black helps him survive?

In my opinion, being a writer doesn't mean you need to have all these completely original ideas plucked out of the air. (Though it's nice when that happens.)

No! It's about being observant and letting your imagination run wild with those observations. If you struggle with what to write, then start with what you know. What you see. Your creative brain will take you on a journey, as long as you give it something to run with.

Trust me, inspiration is all around us!