Day 12 of everyday inspiration. I spent most of the day enroute to New Orleans yesterday. I could have walked over Cafe Flora & Gallery with my laptop yesterday, yet I didn't. I wandered the neighborhoods instead.
I say you should never ruin anything started as inspiration by making it an obligation.
A gravelly blues singer pipes in while a girl practices on the piano in the room next door. Madame Marigny, wife of Count Bernard Marigny, haunts the house next door to this avant-garde cafe and gallery. Tales of an old widow who strangled her dog, then hung herself from the attic rafters, they say.
I've got twenty-eight more posts to go. And I will not have my library at my fingertips, although I face a complete set of bound Encyclopedia Brittanicas on the shelf. My laptop keys are sticky forcing me to slow down to the pace of molasses and grits, and repeat words again that didn't come out aright the first strike. The cafe WiFi is slower than the satellite Internet in the remote island village of Koh Jum, Thailand, and so I pause to feel the music between saves and surfs.
Just me, the Muse, pastel colored shutters, filigreed wrought-iron balconies wrapping around corners, the calico cat traipsing through the rafters peering down from the hole in the ceiling, flamboyant Caribbean art, thick broadleafed tropical flora, and Bohemia incarnate.
We're tricked into believing inspiration strikes when the ideal conditions are established. When you have the security of the day job. Or, if you have a day job it'll be when it's not draining your creativity. It's when the kids get older. When you can get away to that tropical isle or the writer's workshop in the desert. Maybe when you are out on the open road then.
I happened to be seated perfectly kitty corner to a fellow passenger's portable DVD player to watch "Easy Rider" for my first time on the flight over. (Alas, no music since I was reading the subtitles from afar.) There's a scene where a younger Jack Nicholson is telling the characters Billy and Captain America aka Wyatt that people hate them because they hate what they represent.
"Oh, no. What you represent to them is freedom... That's what's it's all about, all right. But talkin' about it and bein' it, that's two different things."
Of course, Billy and Wyatt are not really free either. Seekers never are completely.
She's in fact waiting for you to quit seeking better conditions, and to stop fidgeting and mumbling that now ain't it.
We've been seeking a sense of freedom first. Yet it's now or never. Freedom comes after, not before, inviting inspiration to work with exactly with what you have, exactly where you are.
She doesn't need you to fix up and thus muck up the raw material of your life as it is. Your so-called limitations are precisely Her fodder.
Sometimes people even impose limitation in order to foster inspiration:
Bernhard Willhelm's philosophy has always been focused on how to make clever projects with no money, and his new project is no exception. The designer's first shop in Tokyo was created by item idem and Asa, a design duo based in the city. The pair imagined a store crafted in the detritus and waste of a consumer-based society, and the avant-garde shop that has resulted from this concept now houses Willhelm's latest collections.
...The design team worked to incorporate Willhelm's widely divergent influences, which range from multiethnic aesthetics to pop culture leanings, culminating in what the duo calls a "junk puzzle interior."
By mixing art and commerce, this concept will evolve into both a shop and an exhibition space, which will live for a few months before evolving into something else. - "Retaliation: A handful of new stores is challenging traditional retail concepts with bold new ideas about how commerce can be conducted", WWDFast, June 2006
One of the most inspirational periods in my life occurred when my car broke down, and I was whining to a friend, "I'm sick of tea and toast" (that's all I could afford for meals). Me, the quintessential restless wayfarer, was also boring of being trapped in Silicon Valley suburbia surrounded by its industrial wasteland without wheels.
It had already occurred to me instead of running from my fear of starvation, that I would face it full on. I'd started to research fasting. I was thoroughly intrigued by Jesus' forty days in the desert, and the thought that man does eat by bread alone, but by every word from the mouth of God captivated me.
My friend asked me to consider each meal of tea and toast as a feast. What if I pretended with each morsel that I'd never ever tasted a piece of bread before or sipped a cup of tea before? What if my neighborhood became the veritable Garden of Eden? What if instead of a complaint, I transmuted my situation into a celebration? And that's how my forty-day fast of tea and toast became the first draft (or, first scribble) for a book and among the richest, freest days of my life thus far.
"What we were all trying for is to get as much freedom, as much liberty of expression, not only in writing, not on paper, not in talk, but in action, and the whole world today is in my mind strangled." - Henry Miller, 1962, at a literary conference (referring to Beat poetry renaissance)
Whatever your complaints are, your resistances, your avoidances, your limitations, your constraints, your frustrations - what if they actually were the necessary ingredients for the alchemical recipe of creation? Whatever you have to work with, why not entertain the thought that those are precisely the threads that She needs to weave Beauty? That our travails is the travel (etymology of the word travel comes from travail)? That's the way of Her open road?
Bonus: Use everything that comes your way as fodder. You don't have to go on a pilgrimage to be on one: "For one friend who had difficulty remembering details from his travels, I suggested he take on the task of writing a poem every day during his journey abroad. The daily task proved impossible for him, so he decided to focus his attention on a one-week stretch through Paris, Prague and Florence. To this day, his memories of that time are the fondest of all his travels because, as he has told me, "when everything is a possible poem, the world is suddenly far more interesting." - Phil Cousineau, The Art of Pilgrimage
I like the Berhard Willhelm interview here: "When he began showing in Paris in 1999, Bernhard Willhelm—a German native residing in Belgium—broke about eight million fashion rules by using colors, volumes and themes that defied categorization... Q: What's your design process? A: It has a lot to do with accident. We [the studio] will get an idea, then move on to the next, working on anything we love at the moment."
images New Orleans photo via California Wine and Food; photo via Laurie Gough's travel and writing website; Parsifal and the Flower Maidens, oil painting by Paul Berenson (of course, Parsifal being the quintessential pilgrim seeking the Holy Grail)