Recently I accompanied my nearly 93 year-old-father on an appointment to his doctor. My dad complained about not having enough energy to do what he wants to do. He’s got the desire but not the rest of what’s needed. And what is that? Art. At heart my father is an artist. His spirit is that of an artist. When I was little and we lived in New York City he took me to art museums where he marveled at what could be done with a few pots of color and a paintbrush. But outdoors as well, he would often notice that which others didn’t. “Look at the light on the brick building over there. Have you ever seen a color like that?” I learned such marveling at the everyday from him.
He tried to explain the feeling of inspiration of his doctor. “There is nothing like it,” said my father. “Everything is alive and exciting. You feel driven and yet unhurried.” Yes, I thought, though I said nothing, I know that. It’s my most favorite way of feeling.
Once I began walking in the woods and listening to the trees, inspiration came with more frequency and greater ease than I’d ever known before. I think there’s a latch or a dial within us. Once the latch has been lifted or the dial’s been turned on to the right frequency, we can participate more fully in life’s essence. That’s the intoxication of inspiration. It’s not about having the best materials or even all the right ones; it’s about opening and being available to the creative essence of life. A spiffy hat like the doorman’s hat my father’s wearing in the picture above, assisting me in making my Christmas cards, isn’t essential, but a doorman’s hat, in particular, may help open the door to the inspiration place.
My father finds his inspiration in pigment and color and form. I think inspiration is most everywhere, really, and can be found when we brush aside the mundane, distracting externals and tune into our essentials. For me, it comes most freely when alone and quiet and when out among and listening to the trees. Often it’s present during in between moments, the unnamed, seemingly insignificant times, even small as the space between two breaths. Given attention those moments can be enlarged. Like now as I write, it’s not quite night anymore and yet morning hasn’t wholly arrived; she’s still getting dressed. This is one of such days, too, a time of in-between—the ending of one year, but just before a new year takes off with its bells and whistles. (Bells and whistles that I will hopefully sleep through.)
May your new year be lush with inspiration. May you be dazzled by it.