Inspiration

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.

Snow.

“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.

Mountains.

Fall colors.

Military basic training graduations.

The movie “White Nights,” and watching old videos of Mikhail Baryshnikov dance.

Gershwin.

Dark coffee.

Steel and glass skyscrapers.

Billy Joel’s “Rootbeer Rag.”

Macbeth.

The Saint Crispin’s speech from “Henry V.”

Idina Menzel’s voice.

Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A Minor.

My kids.

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?

14 responses

  1. You, Nicki. Truly.

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  2. Oh, yeah. Lots of things do that for me.
    Ode to Joy
    ‘O, Fortuna’ from the Carmina Burana
    Any painting by Peter Paul Rubens or any of the Peales
    Siegfried’s Funeral March from Gotterdammerung – that one just blows me away. I think it’s the trumpets. No, it’s the whole thing.
    J.R.R.Tolkien’s ability to create a modern mythos out of whole cloth
    Dylan Thomas
    People who do what they love to do and love what they’re doing.
    The guy who fixed my broken brake cable yesterday for the cash I had available.

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  3. Placido Domingo & John Denver, “Perhaps Love”; Sarah Brightman, “Time to Say Goodbye”; Benny Goodman, “One O’Clock Jump”, 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert; Kyu Sakamoto, “Sukiyaki”; Louis Armstrong, “Wonderful World”; David Lanz & Paul Speer, “Behind the Waterfall”; Rossini, “William Tell Overture”; Edgar Froese, “Stuntman”; and Mitch Miller, “The Longest Day: March” (my Dad was in 1st Infantry Div, Omaha Beach, 3rd Wave (he survived).
    Also, Sinatra, “My Way” but YMMV, of course. First time commenter; enjoy your writing!

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    1. So glad to have you! I used to play Louis Armstrong’s “Wonderful World” as a sign off to a show I was doing on AFN radio back in the day!🙂

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  4. Crist clear spring mornings. A new legal pad and a fountain pen. My sons and their accomplishments(one a vet and now firefighter, one a soon to be lawyer).
    A full set of tools and a job that needs doing. Someone with a love of freedom.
    Not a complete list, just a quick one.

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  5. Echo Taps.
    “Amazing Grace” played on bagpipes.
    My grown kids who are step-up and fearless.
    Any WWII piston driven war bird at full throttle.

    The scene in “Band of Brothers where Sgt. Malarkey picks up the “forgotten” laundry without letting on that those are the guys who aren’t coming back. Ever.

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  6. My kids making a good play in hockey.
    My kids playing anything on the piano or guitar.
    Waking up next to my beautiful wife.
    Being so close to a bugling bull elk that you can smell him.
    Looking down from a mountain you just climbed.
    Beethoven’s 9th symphony.
    Red 65 Corvette convertible, 327 4 speed.
    The butter smooth trigger on a Colt Python.
    Falling asleep exhausted in a warm sleeping bag.
    Cleaning the rack of 5 biathlon targets when your heart is trying to jump our of your chest.

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  7. There are so many things that I could say, but what really inspires my soul is when I was playing saxophone in a rock band, and lived out in the boonies, I had the occasion to just go outside and really open up and play free jazz. Just what ever I felt. I always was able to draw inspiration from the air, the birds, or on a few times the night sounds as darkness settled in. If you listen, you can really hear the changes as day fades and night falls, softly, yes, but with its own much different set of noises. Even though I no longer am active in the field, I still have those sounds in my mind, and they often are called up to bring me to a quiet place of peace and rest, something I find I need more of the faster the world seems to spin. So I guess the world, or Gaia, or nature, or whatever, is what inspires me, if I only remember to let it.
    Thanks, Nikki, for a wonderful reminder of why we do what we do, everyday. Because there is beauty in life, and it is worth all efforts to make it even better.

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  8. J. Eric andreasen

    Two of mine are Brandenburg Concerto No 1, by J.S. Bach (Karl Richter, 1970) and Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot (Lucciano Pavarotti, 1994)

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  9. J. Eric andreasen

    ‘Avinu Malkeinu’ (Our Father, Our King), during Neilah service, at Yom Kippur. The gates of Heaven are closing, the Sun is all but gone, and yet, I feel bathed in a growing, blinding, white light.

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  10. Are we talking about something that hits you in the guts or something that brings scenes into my head that annoy the crap out me until I write them down?

    The first is long and distinguished.
    Amazing Grace : Amazing grace on the Bagpipes
    A lone Piper.
    The Flying Dutchman – yes the whole opera.
    Mozart and Tchaikovsky
    Cherokee Flute music.
    Benny Goodman playing Good-Bye (you knew when this number was played the concert really was over.)
    Sunset over water (I keep trying to get that “perfect” shot of the sun over the Potomac)
    Long walks in the park, listening to the quiet.
    Pristine snow
    ….
    This would go on much much longer.

    The second is a bit shorter.
    Certain filk songs (no, that is not a typo)
    Mannheim Steamroller Fresh Aire collection
    The song Citizen Soldier.
    The wind blowing across my face
    The smell of early spring
    The crisp feel of mid-autumn
    …All have brought to mind images that usually get stuck in my head until I write them down, usually in some vignette that no one but me ever sees.

    Reading certain blogs also inspires me, but that is usually to do an entry of my own. 😉

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  11. I discovered your humble blog on Saturday following on the Uncle Ted controversy Fron TTAG. I spent about five hours reading your old content because I love great writing by people who are unafraid of expressing their thoughts and then debating them regardless of their viewpoint.
    I have many musical and movie references that inspire me, but the two that hit home the most are watching my wife just after she falls asleep or just before she wakes up and going for a long walk in a torrential downpour, followed by a warm shower.
    I love your site and have put you on my daily check list.
    Thanks

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    1. Thank you so much! I’m certainly gratified to have folks like you here. Welcome, and I hope you continue reading!🙂

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