Available in stores + online July 7, 2012
Many people have asked me what was my inspiration for Star Child. The answer to that may be simple, but what I have been learning about inspiration is in some ways more intriguing. First I looked up the word. Inspiration comes from the Latin root inspirare, meaning to breathe in. You might notice also that spirit comes from this same root word. I like to think of creative inspiration as a breathing in of spirit.
Why is it some of us feel inspired and others not? Why does some inspiration result in something produced in the physical world, such as art, music, a new culinary dish, a mathematical theorem or new invention? What supports the experience of inspiration?
Let’s start at the beginning. What happens when we have breathed in something? From a physiological point of view, when we breath in air it expands our lungs, filling the air sacs that are laced with tiny capillaries that capture and carry the oxygen to every part of our body. Those same air sacs are permeable in both directions. They fill with carbon dioxide produced as the oxygen interacts with our organs and fuel sources. We exhale what has been produced and start again with the next breath. This process is necessary for our survival.
In the world of imagination we humans also have our own powerful alchemical processing ability. I believe this too, is necessary for our survival and evolution as humans. What we “breathe in” with our senses and our mental perceptions goes through the refinement of our own personal matrix made up our memories and experience, our physical and emotional terrain, our DNA. What is assembled is then “breathed” back out into the world in a unique way. That is why being open and accepting of our selves, just as we are, allows for many creative opportunities in our art, our relationships and even our experience of the divine.
Think of those air sacs in our lungs. The more flexible and expanded they are, the more they can take in what is needed and the ”bigger” we become. There is more “flow”. Restricting our responsiveness by limiting our beliefs, “holding our breaths”, or even overloading our circuits to the point of numbing, narrows the flow of information and feeling and possibilities.
In the case of Star Child, the inspiration came to me in a flash, fully alive and shimmering like a bolt from the sky. But my experience of that, my taking in of that moment was enabled by being fully awake to the beauty of the world around me. In this case it was a meadow overlooking the ocean bathed with the golden light of early evening. The moment was further nurtured by having just come from a writer’s workshop where I shared the collective writing processes of my fellow participants. And then there was the question that I had never before let myself ask that opened the last door: “What if I were to write fiction?”
In a sense the pump had been primed, the ground was fertile for something new to grow. We are naturally creative when we take care of the “ground” that is our selves, add ingredients to fertilize and renew, step outside our everyday routines and use other parts of our brains and bodies.
But the journey did not end there. I had to embrace what I had breathed in at that moment. I had to trust that there was meaning in my devotion to the task. So even when I was not writing, I was letting that inspiration show me my world with new eyes where everything past and present that I saw and heard and touched might transform into a part of the story. Eventually I was willing to devote myself fully to the work and it was there I found the joy of losing myself in writing and traveling in the world that unfolded on the page. That is when inspiration can become manifest - when we surrender to it.
Quite coincidentally, just as I was inspired to sit down and write this piece, I came across this video: "Shots of Awe." I was inspired all over again when the narrator, Jason Silva discussed inspiration with his rhapsodic, visual montage. Take a look. Take a deep breath. Take it in unfiltered. It may inspire you.