This post is an extension of the last as I was inspired (cough cough, please see the irony in that) to continue the conversation.
Kids are awesome at being impulsive in ridiculously spontaneous and nonsensical ways – How can I get away with that?
Inspiration – perhaps a practice? Give meaning of creativity?….
A new and favorite definition for Inspiration (thanks google):
The drawing in of breath.
I don’t know if that definition has the same tone in your reading as it does in mine, so I will attempt to express the way I interpret that. The drawing in of breath is literally what makes us continue to live – to breathe is to live and to willingly step into the next moment with the presence of mind (or subconscious realization) that that drawing in of breath will need to occur over and over again at infinitum in order to guarantee that life continues.
What makes me draw breath willingly?
Yes – children, husband, family, friends….what makes me WANT to continue to draw breath for myself and for those people I love? I want them to experience the beauty of life and the adventure of living it out in a way that attempts to see the good and help make the bad maybe a little better by recognition and action. I firmly believe that God created us to be creators – in his image we were created and given the task to continue creating – to make something of the land, to make something of ourselves, to name things – to live the best we can. So what does it mean to create?
Yes – that’s what it means – and so, so, so much more.
In the Newbigin Fellowship I took part in last year, we read “Desiring the Kingdom” by James K.A. Smith and one of the things that struck me most in that book was the desire to create is something God instilled in us from the beginning of time, and that that desire is how we create culture and thereby build this worldly kingdom up or down depending on where our creativity stems. The center from which we focus our lives is where that creativity is based and from that center – like a compass, the culture flows and inspires new creativity. It’s like dropping a stone in a pond – or for this metaphor – taking a breath and moving forward to the next moment. My hope is always to place God at the center, but I’d be lying if I thought that I was good at that all of the time, or if I claimed that I knew a secret about how to make that happen. I do know, that the more I extend myself to be honest about who I am and who I want to be – with people around me who are busy making their own cultures – the more I remember to at least try to place God at the center of my creativity.
Do I think that means reading the bible daily and doing a crazy amount of devotionals and listening to only Christian music and being totally focused on God? No – I think if you can live in a creative way by doing these things – wonderful and I would like to point out that to each his/her own. I try constantly not to judge.
What I do think it means is being conscious of how my actions effect the people around me and whether those actions reflect the love and grace and mercy (yes, modeled by Jesus)and patience and peace which will build this culture toward good instead of hardship.
Goodness, I got on a bit of a soap box, but I can’t think of a way to separate inspiration from creativity, and likewise I cannot in my definition separate creativity from my belief in Christ.
In my estimation, inspiration and creativity both stem from our human need to fulfill our destinies as culture makers and the culture we make is created by the inspiration we actively seek - practice seeking…..
How can I practice seeking inspiration?
I think by paying attention to the things that cause me to create, even if I do not especially feel creative – just paying attention and being present in the moment I am living so that I can be aware of inspiration and seek it again.
For now I will list moments where creativity and refreshment of soul took place in my life and perhaps one day I’ll analyze why and how those inspirations have shaped me, or have been repressed due to my adult need to fit into pre-made social norms.
I remember being in about 8th grade and realizing my love of skiing was spurred not by the sport itself but because it put me in the direct path of wind in my face – it’s the same reason I love Roller Coasters and running and the same reason that when the wind blew in October in my small home town, I would go outside in the front yard – jacket open and pretend that I was flying against that wind – the same reason I tried over and over again to fly like Mary Poppins off of mine and my sister’s bunk-bed – umbrella in hand, ignorant of the pain the ground would inflict.
I love to lay under the branches of giant trees whose canopies extend farther than their height and watch the wind play with the leaves and blossoms; watch the branches shift in the breeze and imagine I can control the wind.
I love to temp the ocean and it’s strength – I used to chase the waves in and out as they crashed on the sand, cartwheels, foot prints, laughing and salt air – the cold never bothered me. Still I love to body surf and stay out in the freezing waters longer than I should.
Dancing – in any, ANY form.
Writing poetry (though I never think it’s good enough – whatever that means)
As hoaky as it seems – watching musical and singing the songs (mostly older musicals – like Singing in the Rain and White Christmas, West Side Story and the like…but some new too- Pitch Perfect is a family favorite currently)
Singing or playing music with people – music intervals of 2nds, 4ths and 7ths especially – melting beautifully together and dissonant or diminished chords that ring and ring.
Breathing in – moment after moment – Living in order to create and realizing that potential and the fragility of the possible outcomes of creativity – do I seek to create in order to build up this place so that it can become more of the place God intended, or do I break it down and get caught in a society which is so broken that it cannot possibly be sustainable – that is my inspiration. The drawing in of breath – each moment with a purpose and thankfulness for that moment to attempt to live through that purpose.