The Illusion of Inspiration
Most of us go through periods in life where we feel something is missing or not quite right. This leads to a search for something that will correct this feeling, to make it right again. The search, however, can be either conscious or unconscious.
Light and Form in all the Right Places
The conscious search doesn’t require much explanation. If you sense you need more energy you look for health-related answers; if you feel you need a change in your living environment, you look for decorating ideas or even the houses up for sale. Whether it’s a new religion, career, or wardrobe, the conscious search can provide some options.
The unconscious search is when you come across something you didn’t know was missing from your life–and you are inspired. Something catches your eye or your ear; a fragrance wafts your way; a moment of deja vu occurs in an elevator and for a second you are once again as if young and full of promise–until the moment passes and the present day returns. But the seed has been planted, the damage done: you want it, and that sense of magic and possibility it holds, that feeling of inspiration.
The problem, of course, is that the sense of magic and possibility is not inherent in whatever it is you want. Even as you pursue what you want, to recreate the moment or the conditions for the moment, you’re merely setting a stage. What inspires has been mistaken for what is.
Creative people who rely on inspiration are often tortured by the way it seems to slip through their grasp, evaporating before it can be realized. At some point the struggle wears down the dedicated searcher–unless, of course, some sort of daily practice is in place.
Practice, in all its senses, sounds so, well, everyday: uninspired and humdrum, especially if it isn’t accompanied by exotic rituals, or at the very least some sort of lift out of the normal course of things. Practice seems manufactured and passionless when compared to inspiration. Some would even say it is unauthentic.
Getting down to business and learning everything there is to know about your chosen work is to learn the craft. You not only learn what works and what doesn’t, you learn to spot your problems and how to solve them. You become more and more adept at making it do what you want it to do. You learn how to conform to current standards, and from there you learn how to deviate, to make your work uniquely yours–
–and, well, authentic. All without relying on the high of inspiration.
Those who show up to do the work day in, day out, who get their butts to the desk, to the barre, to the easel, to the session, to the laboratory, to the field, to the site–they will tell you that practice does not eliminate inspiration. Far from it. In fact, practice makes it much more likely that you can successfully act on inspired moments. In turn, that success makes it much more likely to engender more moments of inspiration, developing a dialog between the unconscious and the conscious search.
And what could be more inspired than that?
What do you think? Do you rely on inspiration alone?