Friday, September 25, 2009

It's a continuous journey...and a curious touch

We live in harried, hurried times. Racing to and froe on a daily basis, chasing the hours through the day, dropping off children at school, barreling through the business day, picking children up, perhaps buying groceries, picking up dry cleaning, fixing the evening meal, cleaning the kitchen, feeding the pets, helping with homework and finally falling into bed exhausted. This is, oddly, an overview of what might be called the American Dream. For many, it works. For others, it builds a nagging sense of dissatisfaction that the world is passing them by as they rush through their busy, eventful lives. Yet, in the midst of all this frenetic movement, there come moments of inspiration. That curious touch on the mind, that moment of wonderment that fires the imagination and gladdens the heart, spilling from lips opened in song, flowing from fingers applied to a keyboard or pen to paper, paintbrush to canvas, fingers gloriously messy in wet, glossy clay, all of which make the insane daily existence we sometimes lead, lighter and easier to shoulder.

At times, inspiration comes speeding towards us with all the power of a locomotive, the images highly charged and fraught with electricity, passion and fervor. Those moments might take the Wall Street executive from his daily existence in the city and lure him to hike in the mountains to physically express the inspiration that touches his mind in the confines of his office space. Standing on a mountain trail, breathing in the fresh air, becoming a part of nature brings that person an inestimable sense of peace, beauty and happiness that he then takes back to the city with him, allowing him to approach life, renewed and recharged.

Inspiration isn’t always a powerful sledgehammer blow. There are moments when it speaks gently, whisper soft, barely disturbing a busy mind, yet insistent as the eddies and ripples on a calm lake surface….nudging, lapping at the mind, repeatedly touching here and there until that moment of incredible beauty occurs. Suddenly, all comes together in that crystal clear flash that is no less stunning for the calm, quiet manner it was born.

Haven’t we all felt myriad moments of inspiration? Hearing an old story, watching a heroic moment on television, viewing a work of art in a museum, absorbing moments in nature such as a snowstorm or a single, perfect drop of water clinging, trembling, on the velvet petal of a flower…beauty and inspiration come cloaked in many forms. Rough hewn or pristine and elegant, the moments, sights and textures strike each of us differently.

That curious touch is what drives us, I believe, as human beings. We yearn, sometimes silently, other times with willful, vocal intent, to embrace inspiration, to feel it fill us up to overflowing. At some point the joy does, indeed, overflow to the point that we, in turn, become that same inspiration to another person. We underestimate ourselves in this regard, quite frequently, thinking that small gestures go unnoticed, unaware that we are impacting others greatly. Helen Hayes made a comment that, “We relish news of our heroes, forgetting that we are extraordinary to somebody too.” That statement, on its own, has provided inspiration to me countless times since the first moment I read it.

Inspiration, then, is the truest, most pure form of aspiring. We are born with such a capacity to aspire, to dream, to grow and these desires are the foundation for inspiration to take root, plant a seed, flourish and grow into something truly incredible, whether that something is a loud, large bang, or a small, delicate touch on that quiet lake. The ripples are the same, no matter the delivery…that curious touch goes on.

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