She comes to me at the oddest times.
In the droplets of water during a morning shower. In the strobe of white lines as I drive to work. In the whisper of leaves stirred by a breeze. In the swipes of mascara in front of a mirror. In the noise of a vacuum.
And sometimes in the click of the keys as I type.
She startles me with her presence and surprises me with her gifts.
And if I don’t immediately reach for pen and paper, she is playful; teasing me with remnants, and dancing around the periphery of my consciousness when I try to summon her return.
That frustrates me. But I don’t become angry, for fear she’ll leave me. Much like my youthful ambitions to endear myself to a temperamental lover.
We are still working out our relationship. Testing boundaries. Getting to know each other. Sometimes I find myself coaxing, flirting, negotiating, and bargaining. I don’t like myself so much then. It feels regressive and needy.
So instead, I’m learning to trust that she’ll return when ready. Eventually.
Sometimes I’m tired of waiting, so I go looking for her.
She can be tempted out of hiding by beauty, experiences, and stimulating words, both spoken and read. And by silence. For me, especially by silence. She appears because the truth is, she needs my attention, even when she seems not to care.
Even though she has what I want, she needs me too. I have a voice. I have a means. She can only be made manifest if I tend the soil and grow a blooming garden with the seed she casually drops in my hand.
I may be the voice she needs to live, but I’m only part of the choir. There are plenty of others with gorgeous voices, who are receptive and waiting with open arms to take what she has to offer.
I’m well aware that if I don’t pay her attention, she’ll go elsewhere with her treasure. It’s happened before. I’ve had ideas for children’s picture books that are now on bookshelves, written by someone else, because my manuscript was abandoned in a desk drawer or still scribbled on scraps of paper.
In Elizabeth Gilbert’s recent book on creativity titled “Big Magic”, she says ideas are life forms with a consciousness and a will. They will go elsewhere if we are not receptive to their gifts. My book club discussed this concept and there were skeptics. I was on the side of wholehearted belief in this phenomenon. Sadly, I’ve lived it, so I know it’s true.
I’m also convinced she’s not sure whether to take me seriously, so she tests me.
She challenges my commitment to this process by coming to me at inopportune times. For example, if I just sat down to eat, she waits to see if I will jump up from the table while my food gets cold to write down the snippet of wording that perfectly captures a thought I’d struggled with earlier in the day. Or will I chance losing it to the other nourishment my body also craves?
Am I willing to sacrifice comfort, convenience or good manners to follow when beckoned? Is this dream of writing words that mean something also worth disrupted routines and being late to appointments so I can work out a thought before it evaporates?
Yes, she tests me often.
So who is she, exactly?
Despite origins in Greek mythology, I think of her as Spirit. An instrument of God as He continues to bless us with life. After all, her inspiration ignites a spark within us. It lifts us up and we feel energized and alive. Isn’t that what God wants for us too? A belief in Him that frees us from fear, and opens our hearts to all that life has to offer?
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
This instrument of God motivates us to go beyond the limits of our perceived abilities. To reach for more. To see what we are capable of achieving. And as God’s instrument, she often surprises us with her generosity.
We often speak of her gifts as God-given talents. She certainly comes in many forms and touches each of us in different ways.
She visits my husband in the kitchen as he creates fabulous meals with ingredients on hand, making it up as he goes.
She visits my daughter who choreographs unique dance numbers that are a fusion of dance forms.
She visits my neighbor in his garage as the table saw buzzes through freshly cut wood for building projects in his house and yard.
She visits my friend’s daughter who lifts the camera to her eye and captures beauty that is otherwise unnoticed.
She visits my aunt who designs beautiful spaces and can see the barest hint of a hue between shades of the same color.
Do you hear her calling to you? Do you have moments when you feel a gentle but persistent tug to revisit an old “hobby”? Or to try a new one?
Does the urge to create, explore, discover, or uncover, feel like a yearning, a wish, or maybe a closely guarded dream?
The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you; Don’t go back to sleep.
Maybe this secret keeper has something to share with you. Maybe she’s God’s way of calling you, leading you, blessing you.
Don’t go back to sleep. Listen to her whispers.
Where do you believe inspiration comes from? How do you channel your creative impulses?