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Thread: Inspiration

  1. #1
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    Default Inspiration

    “You can’t choose what inspires you.”

    This was something Adam Savage said in his latest talk at a Maker Faire. His talk was about inspiration, and mentioned some of the strange things that inspired him when he was younger (the movie Flashdance, imo, being the funniest one he mentioned).

    This got me thinking about times that I find it difficult to feel inspired by anything. And the mopey un-Halla-like IJ in me felt immediately vindicated (“Ha! It’s NOT a choice!”). But then I also know there’s a difference between choosing what inspires you and choosing to look for inspiration. It’s possible to be sitting right on top of endless source of it without realizing it, looking right at it and not recognizing it as such. What exactly is it that’s not working in a person when they are choosing to look for it, but can’t find it in anything? Is it circumstance/luck? I tend to believe it’s a learned skill- that someone has to build the capacity for spotting these things, like any muscle/skill, it gets stronger with the practice of using it. But again- where does that skill come from? That much does seem almost like circumstance/luck, whether or not we are fortunate enough to have someone in our lives effectively modeling this skill to learn from (and everyone is different, an effective model for one person is ineffective for another)- but that’s based on the assumption that the skill to find/recognize inspiration comes primarily from watching others, and a small part of me doesn’t believe that’s entirely true either. Or maybe I believe that’s how it happens most of the time- the skill is perceived in another person and it inspires the observer to follow suit- but is that always where it comes from? And is it mostly learned during childhood, or does it seem more like something that one must surround themselves with more in the present in order to feel it (because it does seem contagious to me)?

    From dictionary.com:
    inspiration (ˌɪnspɪˈreɪʃən)

    — n
    1. stimulation or arousal of the mind, feelings, etc, to special or unusual activity or creativity
    2. the state or quality of being so stimulated or aroused
    3. someone or something that causes this state
    4. an idea or action resulting from such a state
    5. the act or process of inhaling; breathing in

    Word Origin & History
    inspiration
    c.1300, "immediate influence of God or a god," especially that underwhich the holy books were written, from O.Fr. inspiration , from L.L.inspirationem (nom. inspiratio ), from L. inspiratus , pp. of inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into," from in- "in" + spirare "to breathe"(see spirit).

    What causes those sparks of inspiration? I mean the specific external things that incite the affect are different for everyone, but what exactly is going on internally that allows some people to feel/recognize those sparks more than others?
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

    5w4 sx/sp Johari / Nohari

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    Honor Thy Inferior Such Irony's Avatar
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    I don't think inspiration can be forced. It just happens when you least expect it. You can choose to look for inspiration but I'm not sure you really have that much control over what inspires you. At least that's been my experience.
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  3. #3
    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    I agree that we can’t choose what inspires us. It does seem to me though that being open to recognizing it can make a difference. There are times when I’m more easily inspired than others. I’m not even really entirely sure where I expected this to go. I was just looking for different opinions I guess about what causes inspiration, or just general observations about factors that are conducive to these spontaneous bursts of meaning happening. (Thanks for responding.)
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

    5w4 sx/sp Johari / Nohari

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    Undisciplined Starry's Avatar
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    This is an interesting question Z.

    You see, I am someone that is easily inspired (hooray! - got that down). The problem is...is that I am also someone that is (just as) easily discouraged.

    When I think about it I couldn’t really tell you what is responsible for both. Probably (the immature/childlike nature of) ENFPness. Getting overly-exited about something and making ridiculous ‘leaps’ in your mind. Like, ‘OMG…this is the best apple I have ever had! That’s it. I am going to become an organic farmer!’ (but then becoming annoyed with how long things take to grow). I also think about what it means to be an NF…and (very unfortunately) becoming a little too dependant on ‘others’ to supply your inspiration. Like, I can be so inspired by a smile from the check-out lady at the grocery store. So much so that I, in turn, am smiling and greeting everyone as I leave. But everything comes crashing down by the dude that flips me off in the parking lot.

    Still, I don’t think these *flashes* of inspiration are what you are talking about. Or, at least, I wouldn’t recommend what I illustrated above as something that will eventually lead the way to greater happiness and productivity. I get the sense that you are wondering about a more ‘sustained state of inspiration’…and shit man…hopefully some more people will share their experiences because I am wondering about the same thing! And here, I can’t help but wonder if some sort of sense of ‘connectedness’ to something greater than yourself needs to be in-place beforehand. I mean, I'm not talking about spirituality but that would, in fact, suffice. I’m talking about a preconceived sense that you could have a purpose or could have an influence over something prior to receiving sources of *sustained and regenerating* inspiration. I don’t know…but that was something my mind kept coming back to.

    I’m also wondering about being inspired by ‘negative events’. Like, the parent that loses a child and creates an organization to help missing and exploited kids. For while, thank God, nothing that tragic has happened in my life…I have suffered way too many blows lately for my overly-sensitive self. And so I have been wondering how I make ‘shit into lemonade’.

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    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    And here, I can’t help but wonder if some sort of sense of ‘connectedness’ to something greater than yourself needs to be in-place beforehand. I mean, I'm not talking about spirituality but that would, in fact, suffice. I’m talking about a preconceived sense that you could have a purpose or could have an influence over something prior to receiving sources of *sustained and regenerating* inspiration.
    Yeah, I’ve been wondering what connectedness to other people has to do with inspiration myself. Like, is it possible to feel inspired about something that is in no way dependent on connection? I can remember odd things that inspired me that didn’t in themselves involve other people, but the meanings I derived from the event did. For example- I can remember once being particularly struck by the way a leaf fell and blew over the hood of my car once in the Fall. It’s like this whole thing about the passing of time flashed through my mind, in the second or two it took for that leaf to blow out of sight, and it was enough to fuel several days of journaling. It was entirely about how people come and go. Or this other time- I caught a glimpse of an older woman’s hand on a steering wheel one day and it exploded into a whole thing about aging. It wasn’t about anyone in particular, but it was about being human in general.

    So yeah- is feeling more connected to others more conducive to these little epiphanies, I wonder? Or is it enough to have experience of these connections under one’s belt (to have a memory to pull up)? Do you have to be around it happening in others for it to happen more in you? Is it like a flame in that sense- that it can be passed on or started by some kind of catalyst but can’t spontaneously start on its own?

    In listening to Adam Savage’s talk, I remembered this sort of thing happening to me more when I was younger. So I don’t know, maybe it really is just something that can’t be forced and happens when it happens and that’s all there is to it. But that seems like such a passive attitude. It seems like there ought to be a way to get it more often. Leaves fall all the time- so why did that one leaf on that particular day hit me that way, and so strongly that I can even still see it?
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

    5w4 sx/sp Johari / Nohari

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    small potatoes NotOfTwo's Avatar
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    Enough sleep or way not enough sleep. Exposure to others' creativity. Big sky and wind.
    "It's never enough." The Cure

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    Senior Member redcheerio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    I agree that we can’t choose what inspires us. It does seem to me though that being open to recognizing it can make a difference.
    You kind of inadvertently contradicted yourself there.... I think you answered it in the bolded part.

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    can't handcuff the wind Z Buck McFate's Avatar
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    That doesn’t seem like a contradiction to me. Deciding what specifically to be inspired by and being open to inspiration aren’t the same thing.
    Reality is a collective hunch. -Lily Tomlin

    5w4 sx/sp Johari / Nohari

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    Senior Member redcheerio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Z Buck McFate View Post
    That doesn’t seem like a contradiction to me. Deciding what specifically to be inspired by and being open to inspiration aren’t the same thing.
    Hm, ok, I see your point. I was thinking of choosing to be open to inspiration vs choosing specific sources of it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by StarryKnights View Post
    This is an interesting question Z.

    You see, I am someone that is easily inspired (hooray! - got that down). The problem is...is that I am also someone that is (just as) easily discouraged.

    When I think about it I couldn’t really tell you what is responsible for both. Probably (the immature/childlike nature of) ENFPness. Getting overly-exited about something and making ridiculous ‘leaps’ in your mind. Like, ‘OMG…this is the best apple I have ever had! That’s it. I am going to become an organic farmer!’ (but then becoming annoyed with how long things take to grow). I also think about what it means to be an NF…and (very unfortunately) becoming a little too dependant on ‘others’ to supply your inspiration. Like, I can be so inspired by a smile from the check-out lady at the grocery store. So much so that I, in turn, am smiling and greeting everyone as I leave. But everything comes crashing down by the dude that flips me off in the parking lot.

    Still, I don’t think these *flashes* of inspiration are what you are talking about. Or, at least, I wouldn’t recommend what I illustrated above as something that will eventually lead the way to greater happiness and productivity. I get the sense that you are wondering about a more ‘sustained state of inspiration’…and shit man…hopefully some more people will share their experiences because I am wondering about the same thing! And here, I can’t help but wonder if some sort of sense of ‘connectedness’ to something greater than yourself needs to be in-place beforehand. I mean, I'm not talking about spirituality but that would, in fact, suffice. I’m talking about a preconceived sense that you could have a purpose or could have an influence over something prior to receiving sources of *sustained and regenerating* inspiration. I don’t know…but that was something my mind kept coming back to.

    I’m also wondering about being inspired by ‘negative events’. Like, the parent that loses a child and creates an organization to help missing and exploited kids. For while, thank God, nothing that tragic has happened in my life…I have suffered way too many blows lately for my overly-sensitive self. And so I have been wondering how I make ‘shit into lemonade’.
    This makes me think that's why adults tell children to not dream so big... I mean dream in smaller chunks to reach your goal. They're making the kid connect the dots instead of eating the apple (I do that too, btw).

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