I admit that the idea of being “inspired” hits me in a sort of hokey way.
I think it’s because, in my line of work (i.e. being an artist), there is a false idea that the end product derives less from skill or fortitude, and more from some magical notion of “the muse.”
So if someone asks me: What was your inspiration?? I usually back away mumbling.
Because art is hard work. Not just the work of doing the art, but art of being it. The work of being an artist is a constant choice.
Inspiration is realness for me, not some fake-smile, washboard ab lacquer-coating on life that makes a people inaccessible.
I go a different way when I hear the word “inspired.”
For me it’s what is real, regular sort of PEOPLE get my motor running. Hardworking, nose-to-the-grindstone sort of people.
And something more.
In my post, “How to Be Amazing” I tell my love story with writing about people. To me, act of “just trying to get through life with some crumb of beauty and love” is soul-crushingly beautiful to witness.
To me, it’s all there is.
So I can’t say any particular person who inspired me. People everyday doing normal things are the ones.
I’ll just tell you this story as an example:
Of Two Captains.
Colin invited me to his modest, work holiday party last week. It was just a dozen or so folks.
I got to meet “Bob” for the first time (a new, senior hire) and his wife “Leigh.”
Bob and Leigh were of similar age to us, with young kids, so we sat and talked over dinner for a long time. Someone mentioned that the team had gotten a membership to the YMCA so they could take workout breaks during the workday.
The conversation shifted then to that most heinous human experience: passive-aggressive one-up-man-ship.
I doubt very much this kind of experience is intentional. I think people who have just met each for the first time tend to flail about looking for something to talk about and will land on anything that keeps the conversation moving.
This conversation turned to “the triathlon I did” and “that one marathon and how great it was compared to that other one” and “what time of day do you work out? I work out at 6 a.m.”
I couldn’t believe that these stories were going to monopolize what should be an interesting evening. I felt myself sinking like a rock.
At a pregnant pause, I hopefully tried out: “So where did you two meet?”
Bob and Leigh exchanged looks and said “Well, we actually met because we are both ferry boat captains.”
Not WERE ferry boat captains. ARE.
They met in their teens on the Bay Shore Ferry line and they loved ferry boat captaining so much, that they still do it, on the weekends, every weekend. They take the trip to Long Island, stay with Gramma and each take a shift or two piloting.
Someone Else’s Normal
This is the beautiful quirkiness of daily life that is someone else’s “normal.” This middle-aged Connecticut couple isn’t “just” working or “just” going to the gym. Yes, their days are packed with monotony and family logistics and bills.
Yet, they are still taking a piece of life and saying “I own this.”
This is what inspires (gack! That word!) me. People making room in their life to “do” the art of their life: all those tiresome, dreary teeny-tiny efforts it takes to do them, whatever that may be.
Today’s Prompt: Who inspired you in 2013? And why? What gifts did they give you? And how will you carry these forward in to 2014?
This post is part of December’s reverb13. Click the button to read more.