What does it mean to live an inspired life? It’s a phrase that can bring to mind images of artists, monastics, and martyrs. It also makes me think of sweeping the floor and tending my weeds.
I think the phrase got stuck in my head the other day when one of my friends referred to another as an inspiration. Word nerd that I am, I was intrigued; my friend the inspiration has a breathing disorder and one of the definitions of “inspire” is “to breathe in.”
Spending time with other writers and artists, I hear a lot of talk about “inspiration.” Sometimes it sounds magical and mystical; it can seem impossible to achieve. We can sound like we’re sitting around waiting to be hit by the inspiration stick. I don’t think I’m alone when I say my ability to produce quality work ebbs and flows. I’m not always happy enough with what I’m writing to share it with you — even here. I think that has more to do with my personal standards than a lack of inspiration.
“Breathe in. Soften. Go a little deeper.” I’m new to yoga and fascinated by the various instructors’ descriptions of breath… the ways they coach us to be aware of it. Maybe that’s what has me thinking about inspired life.
My husband goes on silent meditation retreats. Some of my friends paint. I write. And occasionally try my hand at other forms of art: redacted poetry, multi-media painting, landscape design. It all feels connected.
I also just finished reading Painting Life by my friend Carol Walsh. It’s a memoir about balancing her life as an artist and her life as a therapist. And about the endless process of reinventing the self. Sometimes I wish I had known more about self-care and reinvention when I was a young advocate but, eventually, I learned to embrace both. Maybe there is no “wrong.” Maybe there’s only “next.”
What if inspiration only meant “breath?” What if the fact that we have breath means we are inspired? What if it’s all really that simple? How do we best use that precious gift?