Breakdown the word ‘inspiration.’
I’ve come to understand in the early days of 2018, that this capacious word embodies the simple act of inhaling, the source of creativity, and ultimately guidance from a divine power.
In the literal sense ‘inspiration’ means to breathe in – an inspiration and an expiration occurring in each cycle of breath. In the modern figurative sense it refers to someone or something that inspires us. But Merriam Webster says, “before inspiration was used to refer to breath it had a distinctly theological meaning…referring to a divine influence upon a person, from a divine entity….” This is the original meaning of the word from the early 14th century.
The word ‘inspiration’ strikes me as significant.
Its definitions ricochet from my right brain to my left and back again leaving me wondering how a word that I’ve been offhandedly tossing around all these years could hold such gravitas.
One solid year of dedicated meditation since my dad was diagnosed with incurable cancer has imbedded in me a profound respect for the simple necessity of inspirations and the rhythm of breathing.
My analytical, science-attuned left-brain understands ‘inspiration’ and breath as a life force. In particular, the need to uptake air, to draw in a cocktail of chemicals including oxygen that literally feeds our bodies and sustains life.
And the cleanest air on earth to imbibe? I’ve just returned from the Circumpolar Current-insulated continent that is Antarctica. Surely that southern air is the most nourishing I’ve been lucky enough to sample thus far. Its purity is unmistakable and it’s salty, chilled aftertaste smacks of vitality.
Turn to the artistic right-brain and ‘inspiration’ becomes something that cultivates our creative spirit. The ice, mountain peaks, profusion of wildlife, kindred spirit of fellow travelers, and encounters with ghosts of intrepid heroic explorers who long ago dressed in scratchy wool and frozen leather to trek the length and breath of Terra Australis – those too are ‘inspirations.’
The features of Antarctica are at once legendary and legends of geography, geology, biology and history that viscerally inspire me to keep reading and learning and teaching. It becomes obvious at the bottom of the world that there is always more to know and share.
I want to dole out the best bits of knowledge like bait on so many hooks, string them into a lifetime of study and exploration, and keep my audiences hooked as I reel in the line.
I am also inspired to write, to paint, to create, and sing the praises of one of the most threatened places on the planet. The beauty I have been lucky enough to see over the last nine weeks is ephemeral, and changing in front of my generation’s eyes.
Deviations in climate, like trusses, now build a long tunnel with the clear light of finality shinning at the far end.
Finally, together let’s ponder the oldest meaning of the word ‘inspiration’ and come to understand independently how critically important it is to respect our differences in comprehension of the third and distinctly godly definition of the word.
For the divine definition of inspiration:
How does one discover and know divine influence?
Where does each person’s divine entity reside?
How profoundly does the divine influence each of us?
What form does your divinity take?
Are the steep, jagged, black, snow blasted slopes of Antarctic shores and the steel-blues of continental icebergs celestial enough for this brand of inspiration?
For me they are.
Sending everyone much love and hopes for an inspirational 2018.