I imagine there are as many sources of inspiration as there are people walking in this world. I can conjure up images of an individual, hunched over a typewriter, sweating about a deadline, and complaining of writer’s block. The anxiety is palpable as the person wrestles with nothing to say. Where is their inspiration?
I guess this is what Adam has to deal with when one of the 30 fumbles their deadline.
I’m easy. Everything inspires me.
I have a reason for always paying attention outside of myself. I am motivated to get outside of my head and see, and hear, and touch, and smell the world around me. My motivation is simple, it’s fear.
I have a panic disorder that sends my mind pin-balling around the universe between my ears. I learned a long time ago that getting outside my head and paying attention to what the world has to offer is one way to put a leash on my panic pit bull.
So that is what I do, I pay attention. I see everything. It is exhilarating. It is exhausting. Sometimes it takes a lot of energy to be me. I see ferns growing in the cracks of a stone wall. I see patterns in store windows and in nature. I see the hesitation on a young man’s face as he considers giving up his seat on the Metro for a person whose gender isn’t so obvious.
Everything I see has the potential to become inspiration for a new idea, a new lesson plan, a new project . . .
Everything inspires me.
And then a funny thing starts to happen. These inspirations develop into a panic silver lining – the energy I put into observing starts to turn into inspiration. I can’t tell you the number of post it notes, receipts, business cards, take out menus and notepads I have covered with the inspirations that jump out at me from a drive down the parkway or a segment of Morning Edition.
I discovered that I could put my panic on the back burner if I jumped head first into the sights and sounds around me.
So, as a young person I lived as fast as I could to stay ahead of the panic. I wanted to work and play in a vibrant city where sights and sounds, actions and movement, images and vibes were plentiful and accessible. I plucked ideas from jam packed alleyways in Hong Kong where everything sounded, smelled, felt, and tasted different and exciting. I really liked the cacophony of stimuli that I found in cities. So much to see and bounce off. I wanted to package up all of these sights and input and save them for another time when I couldn’t be there but would want to revisit this place in my mind. So I tried. I traveled. I moved to Atlanta. I wrote. Can you capture inspiration by writing it down?
A decade later, I discovered a new source of inspiration—the rolling brown hills of scrub that comprised most of Australia were calming and comforting. It is in Australia, that I found the inspiration in quiet, and sunbeams, and wind sounds. The best thing about Australia was the outside: kangaroos instead of deer, deforested scrub instead of forests, and space instead of density. Australia inspired me to find the outside everywhere I went.
Over my lifetime I have discovered this equation to be true:
observation + contemplation > inspiration + action = a full and somewhat balanced life