Inspire: How to be the Verb.
I’ve been thinking about the word ‘inspiration’ lately, even before the calendar flipped over to 2017. What does the word really mean and how can I find me some? A couple of years ago, I made a list of places and people and things that inspired me. I’d go back to that list when I needed to get juiced creatively or personally. It was a good list. But even good lists need a shake up, a new perspective. So I did what most writers would do, I looked up the word ‘inspiration’ in the dictionary.
noun / in-spi-ra-tion:
a: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation.
b: The action or power of moving the intellect or emotions.
c: The act of influencing or suggestion opinions.
I wasn’t sure about the sacred revelation part, inspiration never showed up on its own and infused me with purpose––I’ve always had to hunt it down, through alleyways and side streets, then, if I was lucky, I’d find it there in a doorway, waving like it had been waiting for me to show up all along. I had to work to find it. So I started again, writing about this very thing, about the process of finding the people and places and things (it is a noun after all) that help me along my creative journey. I wrote it here in this blog––two weeks ago I started. Wrote a paragraph. Deleted the paragraph, times that by a few. Nothing came out right.
The first three weeks of 2017 hit hard and inspiration no longer seemed relevant somehow. I never thought I’d quote Ozzie but here we are, ‘going off the rails on a crazy train.’ It was like inspiration, along with most of my understanding of the world, shifted, or maybe I didn’t get it in the first place. There are bigger issues at hand, right?
So I tried stepping back, switching to a wider, world point of view, then––wrote nothing. No words came to me, not even something to delete. I went back to the dictionary. There, just underneath ‘inspiration’ was the word ‘inspire.’
verb / in-spire
a: to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration
b: to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on
c: to spur on
There it was, the change from noun to verb, it made all the difference for me. Take action, it said! I’d been looking for the usual, for something or someone else to provide me with an answer. I’d never thought about trying to be the answer. That’s just too intimidating, too much responsibility, isn’t it?
The other day I was picking up a book from my library, it was the fourth errand on my to do list and I had only 20 minutes to get the book and make one more stop before picking up my son. I was focused on my task––get in and out. A lady was walking toward me, books in hand, no cell phone in sight. She looked me in the eyes and smiled, the kind of smile that seem like it was made just for you. I didn’t think, I responded, smiled and said hello. I wasn’t so hurried after that. I had my head up, said hi to someone else, made conversation with the cashier at my next stop. I thought about that woman for days after. How that spontaneous action made me feel, how I could have missed that interaction, that little connection that made me feel seen. She made me think about being the verb.
I wondered if for right now, in this time we are living, we could take action, think of ways to enliven or spur on others. How one organic action could connect us with another human in a positive way. Maybe it doesn’t have to be a big, scary thing that needs planning or part of our personal marketing plan. Maybe we can talk instead of yell, or listen more than we talk. Maybe, instead of getting caught up in the bigger picture (the one that’s overwhelming and scary) we can narrow our focus and inspire those we bump up against each day. Maybe its time for us to be the verb in our own way, in our own circles.
What do you think? I’d love to know.
Side note: I shot my Zippo lighter (the image above) before I finished this post. This lighter was a new addition to my morning writing ritual––flick open, light, stare at flame for a while then snap it shut. It became a trigger, one of those actions that get’s my creative mind ready, tells me its time to get writing. It also has the name of my favorite blues guy, Joe Bonamassa, inscribed on the face. He doesn’t know it but the effects of his music are in most of my stories, the rhythm, the mood, the tone. He is one of the many people who spur me on!