Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Inspiration About Inspiration -- We're Going Meta, Y'all!

Tuesdays are the days where we try to give you the fuel you need to conquer each week's challenge. Since this week we're challenging you to get out and collect snippets of inspiration, I figure it's high-time we talk about what that whole inspiration concept is actually about.

To begin, a little etymology, anyone? Check it:
inspiration (n.)
 c.1300, "immediate influence of God or a god," especially that under which the holy books were written, from Old French inspiracion "inhaling, breathing in; inspiration," from Late Latin inspirationem (nominative inspiratio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into," from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit). Literal sense "act of inhaling" attested in English from 1560s. Meaning "one who inspires others" is attested by 1867.
To put it simply, "breathed from God." As you might guess from the time the word came into being, it was generally used to refer to the concept of the Christian Bible being an accurate transcription of divine will. Unlike the word, the concept has been around much longer. Recognize these ladies?

Those are the Disney-ized version of the Muses, the goddesses responsible for creative inspiration back in the good old days of Ancient Greece. (Humanities 101, I knew you were going to come in handy one day!)

See any similarity of concept?

Back in the day, inspiration was something that came from outside yourself.

We've talked before about how artists tend to put a bit too much pressure on themselves to come up with the next super brilliant thing that no one's ever thought of before. While that's all well and good, it seems a bit like throwing the waterskis in front of speedboat, amiright? Speaking of which, I have a heck of a waterskiing story to tell you all sometime. For now, the TL;DR version is that over the course of attempting to waterski for the first time ever, I realized that I was going to need to stop trying to actively get up on the water, and instead let the forces at play between the water and the boat and the skis go on and push me up there. And I'll be honest -- I didn't actually get up on top of my skis this time. But that's why there's always tomorrow. The point is, I couldn't just make it happen. Instead, I needed to experience all the things going on around me, and find a way to make myself work within that experience.

Do you see what I'm getting at here?

Whether you're out walking, or working, or helping a friend clean out their storage, or getting your morning coffee, or driving across the country on an epic roadtrip, or just enjoying how darn cute your furbabies are (okay, maybe that last one's just me), you are always in a position to be inspired. Forces are moving outside of you -- and you, the creative, have the ability to shape yourself to channel those forces and make something out of all the cool stuff you experience everyday.

Now go do it.

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