The Seashell of Inspiration

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The Seashell of Inspiration
The Seashell of Inspiration – © Copyright 2012 by William Beem

Inspiration for You

Inspiration is all around you. There are TED talks galore. Facebook is full of young models sharing quotes of inspiration and motivation. Photographers and designers on Google+ are perpetually sharing unsolicited advice designed to be uplifting. Shopping malls are full of inspirational posters. In fact, you can’t go through a day without finding inspiration knocking your right on your ass. There’s an entire industry of print media dedicated to feeding you mental stimulation, whether you want it or not.

Despite that plethora of material designed to inspire you, people actually go out and hunt for inspiration. They stalk inspiration like prey, hoping that it will magically transform their own work into something inspirational for other people. They dedicate Pinterest boards to their personal inspiration.

Why do we need so much inspiration? I don’t think that we do. True inspiration is powerful. So that tells me that most of these quotes, photos, designs and other elements are unsatisfying. They’re frauds. You know that old saying telling you to question authority? I’m suggesting you question inspiration.

I don’t believe that inspiration is something you can find. Instead, it finds you. It’s not something you hunt down and store away for the time you need it. Inspiration strikes unexpectedly. It’s a surprise. It is a gift from a universe that gives you what you need, when you need it.

There isn’t a single time I can remember when someone showed me something that was supposed to be inspirational that I truly felt inspired. It’s arrogant presumption for anyone to try to inspire you. In fact, I question why someone would waste their time trying to inspire me. What’s in it for them? Do they get a smug feeling of satisfaction or even, dare I say it, superiority? I can’t trust anyone who wants to inspire me because I have to question their motives.

I’m quite happy to learn from people. In fact, I learn from people all the time, even when they aren’t trying to teach me. If I’m inspired by someone, it’s never when they’re making an effort to be inspirational. It’s when they’re making an effort to be who they are. It boils down to the old maxim, “Don’t tell me. Show me.” I’m not interested in rousing my spiritual side by some pithy quote or photo of sunlight through the clouds. The next time I see a quote on Facebook from some model half my age telling me how to live my life to the fullest, I’m going to punch my iMac. That’s because, unlike Elvis, I don’t have a gun to shoot it.

If I have ever done something to inspire you, that’s nice. Take it for whatever it is worth to you, smile, and keep it to yourself. The reason I’m not trying to inspire anyone isn’t because I don’t want to help. In fact, I’m here to help. It’s just that I am not so presumptuous to think I know what you need to spark your imagination. Only you know that, and you’ll find your inspiration much more satisfying when you discover it on your own. Just don’t look for it.

Seek knowledge. Seek information. Seek experiences. Keep an open mind. Try new things. When you are ready, inspiration will find you.

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