I’m on the couch this morning with a smooth cup of coffee, a large Saint Bernard at my feet, and a ginger kitten running around the apartment like he’s just ingested some jet fuel and is now burning it at Mach 6.
I’m at peace.
I turn on the television, just for some background noise to break the silence, and I immediately hear the grating voice of the Hairy Hemorrhoid™ barfing his latest promised diktat to an enthralled horde of reporters. I change the channel quickly.
The movie playing on some premium channel is “Paper Planes,” and Australian (I think) flick about a children’s competition to make the best paper airplane.
Typical. Nothing extraordinary about it.
I’ve missed the majority of the movie. I tune in just as a small boy on the screen is watching the creation he made of green construction paper fly into the hands of his father (who may or may not have been missing throughout the entire movie – I don’t know). And something about the look on his face – a look of love and relief (maybe?) and hero worship – something, coupled with the crashing sounds of the background music crescendoing took my breath away a little.
And that’s when I picked up my silly iPhone and began writing.
Inspiration. It could come from the strangest sources. The most unexpected sound, picture, person, or a moment in time could become a muse, awakening that flash of creativity, or love, or motivation.
Have you ever heard a piece of music that seemed to hit you directly in the heart – and hit you so hard, your breath literally caught in your chest, and once you began breathing again, you realized there were tears running down your face and your arms were spread, almost as if you were trying to meet the crashing wave of sound with your entire body?
I’ve had quite a few of those moments – especially when I was involved in musical theater and choir. I would hear a piece of music, see a photograph, read a book or a poem, and all of a sudden my own voice seemed to sound clearer and more powerful, my body would move more fluidly, and the words seemed to pour out almost without any effort at all!
It never really was that easy, but something hit that motivation button and gave me the heart and the desire to match, and surpass, that energy.
So what is it that brings tears to my eyes each and every time? What is it that takes my breath away and awakens my spirit?
In Russian, the word to describe inspiration is вдохновение. Literally it describes the act of inhaling, of taking that creative spirit into you, uplifting, becoming lighter than air that compels you to conceive that beauty that is within you.
I like the Russian word a lot. It describes precisely the spirit that inspires us to greatness. My list is eclectic.
Beethoven’s 7th Symphony.
“Lacrymosa” from Mozart’s Requiem.
“Seasons of Love” from Rent.
Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” sketch. I also love the fact that Da Vinci wrote in mirror image. I’ve done that since I was 12.
Venice. The canals at sunset.
Military basic training graduations.
The movie “White Nights,” and watching old videos of Mikhail Baryshnikov dance.
Steel and glass skyscrapers.
Billy Joel’s “Rootbeer Rag.”
The Saint Crispin’s speech from “Henry V.”
Idina Menzel’s voice.
Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor.
This is by far not a comprehensive list. Anything can inspire me at any time to be better, to work harder, to be more.
What about you? What inspires you?