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  • Writer's picturedavidauten


Inspiration is elusive if nothing else, a spirit that frustrates as much as it delights, incapable of fabrication, and impervious to any attempts at being forced. Inspiration prefers to appear. How? A muse? The divine? An incantation? No one knows. Sunlight. Clouds. Trees. These are all just as likely to be a source. Yet there is nothing automatic about inspiration, and it seems the more one seeks it the less likely it is to be found. Better to let go and forget the notion entirely, trusting instead in its subterranean ways, subtle and ethereal, coming to us through circuitous routes and inner waterways, buoying our spirits while remaining hidden from view. These back channels of influence nurture us in ways little else can. Cleansing, refreshing, and reminding us of what we love, and how to belong, inspiration has a way of creating currents redirecting us back to a childlike, essential, and more elemental nature.

Inspiration may wash over us while in the shower as the anticipation of the new day dawns, although inspiration is just as likely to flow from the frustrations of a caustic presence or person, inadvertently setting in motion a chain reaction of virtuosity that may never have been at all without the irritation of this other. Dissatisfaction can be a guide inspiring us to move beyond an old exhausted sense of self as we set sail for a new coast calling out to us by name. Vocation and inspiration are intimate partners, forming and informing the prospects and possibilities of our future selves, with the promise of animating us truly and saving us from going through the motions in a mere semblance of life.

Linguistically, inspiration is breathing in, from the Latin inspiratio, indicating the invisible, interior, life-giving dynamic of inspiration. Without inspiration life suffocates. When we dwell for too long in an environment where the oxygen is sparse, perhaps mistakenly belonging to a place, people, or profession that is not or no longer our natural habitat, we gradually become ill and unrecognizable. Sapped of vitality, devoid of inspiration, we might increasingly sense the asphyxiation of meaning from our existence, life in a vacuum, empty and listless. Rather than taking this only as a sign of our demise, however, actually we may be standing at the precipice of discovery, the desperate realization of our need to breathe in fresh air in a new atmosphere longing to be explored. Sometimes it takes faith then to venture from the thinning air of the known, into the unknown, before we can breathe again.

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