The Inspiration Onion

Creativity is a strange beast. I don’t know what I think in relation to other people and what works for them. What works for me is solitude; when I’m forced to be me, to make all the choices, to be held completely responsible; when I’m forced to answer the question, what do I want to do? Step one: Be alone. Personally, I’m screwed up. If there are other people around, my view is automatically skewed. What are they doing? Should we be doing something? Let’s do a group activity. Are they having a good time? I can’t do this/that right now because they’d be bored. Who’s hungry? Et cetera. If my focus isn't 100% on me, it’s hopeless. Creativity calls for an insane amount of selfishness.

Step two: Wait. I’m a big believer in inspiration and I know it’s hard to find. Sometimes it feels as mythical as a unicorn. But you can’t rush it, you can’t force it, you have to wait for it. (I keep saying “you,” but I mean me. Deal with it.) I don’t think it’s divine intervention, however. I think it’s something we’re all capable of, but it’s a matter of finding your route to it. Kind of like learning to masturbate.

Step three: Create. When the stars align and genius takes hold, there’s nothing quite like it. Boredom dissipates, time vanishes and the body can run for hours on the magic created from that one spark. I’m definitely calling it magical. Having those moments where you’re inside yourself and pure creation is spewing out of every orifice –nothing makes me feel more like the me I want to be.

There's that school of thought that you even if you don't feel inspired, you need to keep working at it just the same. I do agree with that - I hate it, but I agree with it. In a way it's like peeling an onion, you need to cut through the paper and the too-purple, overripe layers to get to the meat of it. This will likely involve tears. It's not easy. This isn't to say that inspiration will be reached by just working at it.

[sad trombone] I just realized that I've come full circle and have no other choice than to say something clichéd. Success is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration. Luckily I'm a very sweaty person so I achieve success with great speed.

The sadness of it all is that those moments are few and far between. Life, my life, doesn't allow for frequency of those moments. But that’s okay. I’m not upset and I don’t necessarily want anything to change. Because at least this way, I know how fucking special it is when it happens.

Arriving at an obvious conclusion

In interviews at work, one of the questions that I like to ask people is, "What is your biggest challenge?" It's intentionally open ended and could apply to anything. I dislike it when people hear the question wrong and think I'm asking, "What have you overcome in the past?" No, I don't care about that. It's interesting to hear someone identify what they're currently struggling with in life. Because whether your 22 or 72, there's a challenge in your life. And it doesn't have to be epic or monumental, but it has to be yours. And depending on the day, your challenge may shift. Today it hit me what my current biggest challenge is: time/expectation management. If I've got 13 things to do, I get overwhelmed easily. And they all have to get done RIGHT-FRICKIN-NOW. You know that saying about procrastinators, "Why put off til tomorrow what you can do today?" I take that in the worst possible way. I overexert and overextend my own limitations, both physically and, more importantly, emotionally.

Days begin and end with me in a tizzy trying to get too much done. But at the same time, it's not usually the things I want to be doing. I'm not reading and I'm not writing and I'm not painting. I thrive on creativity, but rarely have enough oomph to get around to it. So, by the time I get the cleaning, laundry and dishes out of the way, I'm too exhausted to want to do anything else.

And that's dumb.

But I don't know how to let that go. I need an altered mantra. Something like, "Put everything off that brings no inner-gratification til tomorrow so you can be sane today." But I want that to be more boiled down. It could be as simple as, "Consider yourself today." Or it could be scarier like, "You'll probably be dead soon. Don't waste it." But that starts to border on "Carpe diem." Hm. Maybe that's it.

Damn it.