Inspiration

Inspiration is something that comes to us all if we allow it. From a creative perspective, imagination and inspiration are almost interchangeable; both are informed by personal experiences and unique thought processes.

Definitions of the word inspiration often refer to ‘divine breath’ and many famous creators have described feeling as if they act only as a conduit for a divine intelligence or power that flows through them.

“Inspiration: A peculiar effect of divine flatulence emitted by the Holy Spirit which hisses into the ears of a few chosen of God” Voltaire

However, no matter how mystical this process might seem, inspiration clearly comes to those who make themselves available to being inspired. While we may not know where inspiration comes from or when it’s due to arrive, there’s no doubt that the more effort we put in, the better our chance of getting something decent out. Sure, inspiration can come unbidden, but that doesn’t make it a great idea to sit on your hands and wait for it.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” Pablo Picasso

Nikola Tesler believed that to generate ‘inspiration’ he should spend time and energy concentrating hard on a particular problem and then try to completely forget about it and put it out of his mind. He believed that the inspiration would come to him when he was least expecting it.

One afternoon, which is ever present in my recollection, I was enjoying a walk with my friend in the city park and reciting poetry. At that age I knew entire books by heart, word for word. One of these was Goethe’s Faust. The sun was just setting and reminded me of a glorious passage:

The glow retreats, done is the day of toil;
It yonder hastes, new fields of life exploring;
Ah, that no wing can lift me from the soil
Upon its track to follow, follow soaring!

As I uttered these inspiring words the idea came like a flash of lightning and in an instant the truth was revealed. I drew with a stick on the sand the diagram shown six years later in my address before the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and my companion understood them perfectly. The images I saw were wonderfully sharp and clear and had the solidity of metal and stone, so much so that I told him, “See my motor here; watch me reverse it.” I cannot begin to describe my emotions. Pygmalion seeing his statue come to life could not have been more deeply moved. ~ Nikola Tesla, (On the Invention of the Induction Motor)

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