Inspiration is an elusive little bugger; it’s typically not there when you need it, but it always manages to strike at a moment when you’re powerless to do anything about it.
A recent trip to The Met got me thinking about inspiration as I wandered from masterpiece to masterpiece. Artists – of every craft – glean inspiration from the world around them. Monet and his water-lily pond. Degas and his love of the ballet.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a magnificent water-lily pond in my backyard. And I only make it to the ballet once every few years. Like most people, I work full-time, try to get to the gym enough to avoid getting a muffin top, have a never-ending pile of chores waiting for me at home, and fall into bed every night wondering how I’ll find the energy to do it all over again tomorrow.
Where is inspiration supposed to fit in all this madness? In the constant juggle of commitments and responsibilities, when are we supposed to find the time to hunt this shape-shifting force? Is it something we should seek out in the pre-dawn hours before work? Or cram it in over the lunch hour? Or after dinner? Or during our few hours of downtime on the weekend?
Is “finding inspiration” even something that can be scheduled or planned for? Or is it as random an occurence as a ladybug landing on your arm?
The late self-help expert, Frank Tibolt, said, “We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”
Picasso shared this philosophy, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”
These sentiments make me think of the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, when lucky-in-love Katherine tells heartbroken Frances, “When I was a little girl, I used to spend hours looking for ladybugs. Finally, I’d just give up and fall asleep in the grass. When I woke up, they were crawling all over me.”
Is inspiration like ladybugs? Will it find you when you finally stop looking for it?