I was chatting with an old friend the other day. Chatting in the way we seem to chat now, which is over the computer. There was nothing remarkable about the exchange, at least not until near the end. After we had done all the catching up and the asking after, we started talking about art. She likes to say she dabbles in pottery, though it really is more than dabbling. She talks a lot about making it her work but hasn’t quite made the leap. Lately she thinks that she is lacking in inspiration, and that is what holds her back.
It got me to thinking about the topic – inspiration. I feel pretty lucky that way, I live in a pretty inspiration rich environment. Outside my window is a near daily kaleidoscope, be it the landscape or the weather. Beyond that I have incredible natural vistas, I have access to a couple of spectacular libraries and a variety of pretty amazing bookstores. There is a rich cultural life in the northwest, from theater to food and wine. Then there are the people; the wine makers and craft distillers, the entrepreneurs, the public figures both famous and infamous; and then there are my friends. My friend isn’t exactly living in a desert of such influence herself, and yet that seemed to be her take on her situation.
So is inspiration internal or external? I think of the way we talk about the subject. We seek inspiration. We hunt for it as though it is some rare gem. We imbue objects with it – that painting is inspirational, the landscape inspires me. We seem to look at it as something that is purely external to us. That notion gave me pause. How can something that is so personal be not of us?
I think that the key to the thing is being open to it. To be willing to see it in unlikely places as well as the likely. Let’s face it, not everyone gets to stand in front of a Monet whenever they wish. Not everyone gets to hear the sound of a magnificent water fall or taste an exceptional wine. And not everyone who does have access to that is going to be inspired by such things.
Inspiration, it turns out, really is a part of us. I suspect that we would have no real need to seek it because it lives in us if we wish, if we let it out of the box. Not just for the artists, either. It happens when we allow ourselves to do what we were born to do, I think. My friend is a gifted potter, she just hasn’t allowed herself to be that. She has kept it as her hobby, as that thing she does on the side. Which makes me feel doubly lucky. Because I have found what I love in a place that I love. It is no wonder that I feel inspired as easily as I do.