I had a conversation with an old friend this morning, and it’s getting me thinking about a bunch of things. Back in my broke-ass hippy vagabond days the two of us used to go dumpster diving outside of grocery stores together. This was a point when I was making barely enough money to get by, and there were weeks when digging through discarded boxes for cheese and veggies made the choice between gas money and grocery money a lot easier. It was also quite a bit of fun, in an anarchist, anti-authoritarian sort of way.
Somewhere along the line though, I had the realization that despite the unfortunate wastefulness of our society, choosing to sustain myself on what other people had thrown away was a manifestation of my belief that there wasn’t enough to go around – that I didn’t have the right to take up space. So I decided to give it up.
These days I think a lot about inspiration… that little nudge inside of us that tells us to do something. It could be huge (move to Vancouver, start a record label, run a marathon), or it could be seemingly insignificant (genuinely ask the grocery clerk how she’s doing), but I think the underlying attitude is the same. Listening to your inspiration means having faith that the real you is worth sharing. You belong here. You have something valuable to contribute, whether others understand it or not. To me that’s what being an Artist is all about. The inspiration to create Music or a painting or whatever is just one tiny facet of the overall approach of valuing your self and being real in the world.
Unfortunately, or culture does little to support individuals in knowing what they want and expressing it. Most of us spend most of our time with our attention on our thoughts, second guessing ourselves, coming up with a million reasons not to follow that tiny little prompt. A lot of us don’t even hear the inspiration when it comes because everything else is too loud. So to be in touch with what we want means quieting down our minds, and getting settled in our bodies. It means organizing our Lives around listening for that subtle nudge.
For instance, I recently had the realization that I am full-on addicted to refined sugar. I’ve spent basically my entire life-span using it to regulate my mood, and thus it has become something that my mood depends on for stability. So that constant craving for sugar was jamming my signal, was creating noise that affected my ability to tune in to my inspiration on a moment to moment basis. Giving up refined sugar became the next logical step in the long, long journey of making myself a clear channel for inspiration to speak through. A solid exercise program (daily running, plus regular core exercise and yoga) is another habit that I’ve put into place over the last year meant to make me a strong vessel for the lightning juice of inspiration when it comes.
And then, I think it’s important to remember that it’s also OK not to know. When I’m lacking clarity on a big decision I try to remember not to think too much, just to be present in my body and rest in the not knowing. If I keep myself open to the small inspirations (give this homeless guy a banana from my grocery bag when he asks me for change, give an honest answer when my room-mate asks how I’m doing), then the big inspirations will come when they’re ready.
What have you been inspired to lately? How did you know that you wanted to it? What did you do about it?