The Only Good Surprise


I don’t like to be surprised. You won’t find me in a haunted house, playing with a jack-in-the-box or watching a suspenseful movie. I don’t want to have a surprise party. Ever. The one exception to this rule, the one time when surprise feels like a delicious treat is when, out of nowhere, I come face to face with inspiration.


Inspiration is just about my favourite thing. I love the feeling of buzzing radiant energy coursing through my veins when my creativity is sparked. I can go from feeling empty and spent, to filled with joy and purpose just simply through contact with a creative catalyst.


Over the years, I have found that most often inspiration comes to me in one of three ways. Nature is first (naturally!) It doesn’t have to be deep in the woods or sitting on a sandy beach. The first leaves of spring unfurling, the hoar frost painting the branches with icy crystals or the moon rising in the evening sky are all moments that I can capture and bottle in my heart.


When I’m in the midst of nature, I feel like inspiration is all around me, I feel the whispers of stories crackling through the branches and chattering in the leaves. If I’m in the woods and I’m not inspired then I know that I’m likely stuck in my head and not in the woods at all.


Maybe that’s it? Maybe inspiration is simply a moment of wonder that gets me out of my head and into the world long enough to realize that the world is actually a pretty awesome place. I used to feel that inspiration was either going to come, or it wasn’t, like it was an inexplicable magical force, but as I get older I find that it is waiting in more and more places. The trick is I have to slow down and let it find me.


It found me this year at Festival du Voyageur. It was a busy day and we only had a few hours to take in the sounds of the festival. This was my one kid-free day at the festival, a time to sit and soak in the music and the universe did not disappoint. Through the din of rumbling chainsaws in the wood carving competition, I could hear the lovely sound of a voice and strings intertwining in a magical dance of mutual adoration. I spent the next blissful hour listening to Raine Hamilton, I left with my heart full of music and my head teeming with stories and characters clambering over each other for the chance to burst into existence. From that inspiration, The Making of a Legend - A Herstory sprang to life.


As in this example, art of one kind or another, is another place where inspiration will sometimes visit. For me, it is less likely to visual art, especially in a giant gallery where the quality and quantity are so overwhelming that my mind tends to take a hiatus. Music, poetry or storytelling is most likely to grab my attention and give me that glorious spark..


Then there are children. I work in a school and have four kids under ten, I am with children a lot. They can be frustrating, loud and impulsive, but they are also one of my greatest sources of joy and inspiration. Have you ever noticed how often and easily they laugh? The way they see things from a new and totally different perspective because they have less preconceived notions about how things should be? When I take the time to slow down and share in a child’s eye view, I often find that things are less black and white than I thought. Instead I find a new undefined kaleidoscope of colour.


One of my very most favourite things about inspiration is that it is just as wonderful to watch it unfold for others as it is to experience. Recently, one of my sons has been inspired by author/illustrator Jarrett Lerner (Enginerds), he saw a character that Jarrett had posted on Twitter and this character has become the subject of almost daily drawings, stories and short comic strips (hopefully no copyright lawsuit will be pending). Who knows why this character sparked his imagination? That is part of the beauty of inspiration.


Inspiration doesn’t have a set formula, it can’t be bought or borrowed, but it can definitely be shared. No matter what your passion, take a moment this week to breathe a little more deeply, look a little longer and search for your moment of magic. You might be surprised by what you find. In the immortal words of Walter Hagen (did you know he was a golfer?) “You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.”

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