A Journal Entry—Where Does Inspiration Come From?

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The Dreams and the Thoughts and the Daily Encounters have colluded to send a message replete with fresh ideas and perspectives on the shamanic act of creativity.

There are inspirations acting as touchstones. They exist in the fabric of our stories and our very awareness. They are, in all their obviousness however, hidden from view, as if there was a mandatory concealment; as if they were bound by tradition to never reveal themselves on the first pass.

Yet they are floodgate levers with a hair trigger. And once tapped, they release the knowing.

A strange and wonderful confidence comes gushing from a well whose opening is sealed from the senses.

“Here is the thing I must create!”

The clarion call issues all the parameters and imaginings necessary to launch and complete your project.

So it appears that inspiration comes from a place that cannot be known, yet is always at the ready. There is absolutely no shortage of it, just no visible way to find it ahead of time.

Comment and share your thoughts on inspiration.

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MY COUSIN CHUCK

In the interest of getting to know who I am, I’m sharing stories from my life. I call them Preliminary Files and I hope you enjoy them.

ChuckChuck was my dad’s cousin’s son.

We were close to the same age. Chuck had many faults but mainly he was too brave.

One bright summer day, in the midst of our childhood, Chuck and I were riding our bikes down by the canal.

In the Central Valley of California, canals were necessary for the massive amount of irrigation used to water the 22,500 square miles of orchards, fields, and farmland. Each canal, made from concrete, was roughly 15 feet wide, six to eight feet deep and ran for (literally) miles.

They made great places to swim in the heat of the summer. But we weren’t out for swimming on this day. We were out for the ultimate bike ride.

The “Swift Canal”, so named by us boys for its rapid current (easily 28 miles per hour) was the closest to our house. As we pedaled up on the bank, Chuck spotted a dirt pile very close to the canal’s edge. It might have been a foot high and maybe three feet around, Chuck declared it the perfect jump for crossing the canal.

I had doubts. And while I was telling him why I didn’t think it would work, he was busy getting a good run for it.

Maybe the right speed, I mused, would make up for the ramp’s severe shortcomings.

Chuck hit that mound pedaling like a jackrabbit ahead of a prairie fire. He and his bike were launched far higher than I had imagined possible.

I watched the scene play out in slow motion as Chuck held steadfast to his bike and began his descent toward the other side of the canal. All evidence pointed to a successful landing, but with his front wheel skyward, his back wheel hit the cement wall of the canal in such a way as to bounce him off in the opposite direction. Straight up and backwards, I watched him hang in the air for just a split second above the middle of the canal before he and his bike went straight into the drink.

That’s when the panic set in. Two thousand “what ifs” trampled thru my brain like a herd of wild animals.

  • What if the current takes his bike?
  • What if the water’s moving so fast he can’t make it up to breathe?
  • What if he banged his head and passed out under water?
  • What if I have to jump in and save him?

None of the scenarios could prepare me for what was coming next. But just then I realized the 28 mph current might be sweeping him away. I hopped on my bike, racing along the canal looking for any sign of life.

Nothing. Just fast moving, dark green water. Where would I jump in?

When I saw hair come floating to the surface, I was seized by fear. But right behind hair, up came ears, then a sopping wet face, which turned to me and said, “Guess what I’m doing?”

I was pedaling as fast as I could go to stay even with the oddly floating head. “I’m riding my bike under the water!” Chuck yelled.

I had to laugh.

(My Lesson: We can imagine things way worse than they actually are. Better to use our imagination for the power of good. And; it is so hard to pedal 28 mph unless you’re being helped by the current.)

 

PYGME

In the interest of getting to know who I am, I’m sharing stories from my life. I call them Preliminary Files and I hope you enjoy them.

PygmeMy grandpa, Ernest Earl Baker, retired from his work as an electrician for the railroad. Naturally the next step for a retired railroad electrician is to start up a pony ring. He bought a bunch of Shetland ponies and offered rides to kids in shopping center parking lots.

I got to know some of the ponies when I was seven. They had cool names like Spartan, King, Captain, and Joe-Jack. I’d ask them about their names and they would never, ever answer me. I figured there was a bit of a language barrier, what with them speaking Pony and me speaking English. They’d just stare at me with a calm, inquisitive look as they munched away on their barley and oats.

I never rode them because riding horses was not my cup of tea. Which is why I was surprised when Dad told me he’d gotten me a pony for my eighth birthday.

After I blew out my candles and we all had cake & ice cream he said, “Come outside, I’ve got a surprise for you.”

There he stood on the grass, with an unmistakable look of vicious wildness, trying desparatly to force his eyes open wider than their capacity.

I didn’t like the look of this one.

Dad said, “Hop on!”

I said,”What? Oh… no thanks. Maybe I’ll just pet him.” But inside I was saying, “Don’t pet him! Run away! Run away now!”

But then Dad insisted.
Dad had indicated on several instances that his insistence is not to be denied.

So I mounted the beast.

Dad said, “Ready?” and with every particle of my being I wanted to answer no, but that would just prolong my hellish dread, so I just said yeah.

Dad let go of his halter and Pygme forthwith bent his neck around backwards. I caught a glimpse of white teeth protruding beyond pink gums as he clamped into my leg with just over four thousand pounds of pressure.

Once he was positive I was in excruciating pain, he let go, did a wheelie and charged off out from under me, thundering off into the distance as I did a triple-gainer into the dirt.

I looked pitiful and Dad could see that now. So I was released from my obligation to pursue the joys of horseback riding.

(My Lesson: Intuition is always dead on. If you feel something is dangerous, run away. And; always remember ponies don’t speak English.)

SALLY

In the interest of getting to know who I am, I’m sharing stories from my life. I call them Preliminary Files and I hope you enjoy them.

MeAndSally
In the fifth grade Dave Malone liked baseball. John Snyder liked hot-rods. And I liked Sally Howard.

But I didn’t know it until I heard whispered rumors that she liked me. In fact I didn’t even heed the rumors until I saw it written in pencil on the gym wall behind the bleachers. There was a big plus and on the top it read SH and on the bottom it read BB.

There was a period of confusion as I tried to decipher the glyph. I couldn’t tell if the initials were meant to be read vertically or horizontally. Maybe it meant SB + HB. Someone had to show me how it worked. Once I was sure it meant Sally Howard + Bobby Baker, I felt butterflies in my stomach.

Sally had golden brown hair, a sweet disposition, a warm, smiling face and a light smattering of strategically placed freckles. She sat across from me in Mrs. Austin’s class.

Dave Malone was far more excited than I was about the whole affair. Perhaps it was because he already had Bonnie as a girlfriend for quite some time. Maybe he knew about wonderful opportunities and benefits of having a girlfriend that I could not yet fathom. It was Dave who convinced me that I needed to invite Sally to the Swim Party coming up in two weeks.

I was somewhat confounded by his request since this was a school-wide event and certainly not “by invitation only”. Without ever saying it, Dave was trying to tell me I’d receive bonus points in the courting game if I went ahead and invited her as my guest. So I did it anyway. Seemed like sound advice, even if it still didn’t make total sense at the time.

I told Mom & Dad about the Swim Party and they said I was going to need a new swimsuit. Right on! Not only was I going to get to spend time with a pretty girl doing something I loved to do, but I was going to be doing it in a BRAND NEW SWIMSUIT! This felt awful good.

Both Mom & Dad accompanied me on my swimsuit quest. It was epic. I found a neon green and pink striped pair of trunks that looked like it was made from foam rubber. It was the weirdest (and therefore coolest) swimsuit in existence and Mom & Dad (possibly against their better judgement) got it for me.

The party came and went swimmingly except for the fact that girls apparently flock like birds at social gatherings. I therefore saw very little of Sally that day.

But I saw her the following Monday at school and she never looked so radiantly beautiful. We ate lunch together and that’s when she revealed that her father was our landlord.

We rented a house from Mr. Howard that was located smack-dab in the middle of a bunch of peach orchards. He was a peach grower and he was the first person I’d ever met who had polio. He walked with a limp and held a cane.

When I got home that afternoon, I was overcome by an intuitive desire to create something for Sally Howard. Sometimes desire, inspiration, and resources come at exactly the same time and I knew what I must create.

I grabbed an old piece of wood and a bunch of small nails and a scrap of metal. After nailing the scrap of metal to the wood, I used a larger nail to punch holes in the metal in the exact shape of her name. It looked right nice because the small nails had round heads which looked like rivets.

I wrapped it in fine paper with a lovely ribbon and set it aside for the proper time to present it. The proper time was that very Saturday.

She came by with her dad and while the adults talked about grown-up things, we took a walk thru the orchard.

There in the warm shade of the trees, the air sweet with the scent of peach, and Sally Howard holding my hand, I reached into my back pocket and gave her the gift. She opened it like a school of hungry Piranha. She took one glance at the apparatus, threw her arms around my neck and kissed me directly on the lips. It was the best feeling I ever had. We kept our lips together for an extraordinarily long time. Neither of us wanted the kiss to end.

One week later we moved 200 miles away. I never saw Sally Howard again. But I never forgot that look in her eyes right before we kissed.

(My Lesson: Don’t try to build a future with the object of your affection in order to assure more oncoming love. That always hurts when it doesn’t work out.
And; remember to feel love as often as you can while it’s right there “on the hoof”.)

EMBARRASSMENT

In the interest of getting to know who I am, I’m sharing stories from my life. I call them Preliminary Files and I hope you enjoy them.

Gingerbreadman1
In the third grade our teacher was Mrs. Lee. I only remember that because the bigger kids called us Lee’s peas.

One day Mrs. Lee told us to bring a styrofoam meat tray to class the following day. Mom was weirded out by the request becuase meat is apparently dangerous if any residue from it is left on a surface. So we washed it thoroughly… three times.

I took it to school the next day, dying of curiosity about how it would be used. When Mrs. Lee told us we were going to make a gingerbread man, the response was luke warm. But after we got started, it became very enjoyable.

When we finished art, it was time to head for the bus to go home. I had a jumble of books and papers that I had to carry. They hadn’t invented book bags yet. I struggled trying to figure out where to put the gingerbread man. Finally I opted to hold it in front of my armload of books.

What the heck, I thought. Maybe someone will see it and admire its craftsmanship. I was proud of my work on it.

On the way to the bus, a girl from sixth grade said, “Oh isn’t that cute? Holding up his little gingerbread man for all to see.”

It was sarcasm in it’s most extreme. Spoken in a sing-song tone with emphasis on the “T” sound in the word “little.”

I was horrified. I tried to be mad at the injustice of the embarrassment, but she had called it like she saw it. And I was guilty as charged.

I got over it fairly quickly, but something told me sixth grade girls were not to be trusted.

(My Lesson: Sometimes people accuse us of doing things we are actually doing. It’s a lot easier to get over the embarrassment when the accusation is not false. And; sixth grade girls usually turn out all right after all.)

FRIED

In the interest of getting to know who I am, I’m sharing stories from my life. I call them Preliminary Files and I hope you enjoy them.

FryingMe
I was about six years old.

I was up in the corner of the kitchen when I saw the kidnapper drag me in and hang me on a hook with a rope and pulley.

I watched him hoist me up and tie the rope off.

He took a knife and skinned me. I watched him cut me into small pieces throw them into a hot frying pan with plenty of oil and I saw my flesh and bones cook up like a porkchop.

When I woke up, I didn’t feel a thing. No fear or disgust or anything.

I was up in the corner of the room so I felt nothing with my body. I was clearly witnessing the crime rather than being a victim of it, so I was not emotionally alarmed either. It was just a curious scene happening in my presence.

(My Lesson: There are two different forms of consciousness in each of us: one who plays out the drama as an actor in a play who forgets he’s acting, and one who simply observes it all taking place. And; from the point of view of the observer, all is well.)

NIGHTMARES

In the interest of getting to know who I am, I’m sharing stories from my life. I call them Preliminary Files and I hope you enjoy them.

Nightmares
I had recurring nightmares.

Every night, the minute I slipped across the veil, the terror began. Something outside my bedroom window began to screech its talons across the glass. I’m not sure if I was more afraid of the monster or the menacing noises it was wreaking, but it was obviously trying to get in and obviously bent on my destruction.

Each night, the second I heard the beast attempting to gain entry, I’d forge the strongest defense known to boy-kind; I’d pull my covers up over my head.

I’d lay there trembling and listen hard to get a bead on the monster’s whereabouts. If I heard no boards crack or glass break, I’d know I was going to live, but I never stopped quaking in fear.

Night after night it came back to kill me, never quite able to get past the walls or windows. And every night I would shake in horror the entire length of its attempts.

One night though, I felt something different. I felt annoyed. I felt 50% terrified and 50% annoyed. I was annoyed because I really didn’t know what was making all the racket. Sure, it was a monster, but what kind? What did it look like? How big was it? These questions began to gnaw at me.

I summoned all my courage and pulled my blankets off instead of over my head. I spun up out of bed and marched over to the window. The screeching was almost unbearable, but I reached up and pulled the curtain aside.

First I noticed no monster at the window. Then I saw the Jeep. A cartoon army Jeep pulled up along the curb directly in front of the house. The Jeep was occupied by four six-foot tall cartoon geese. They were decked out in military uniforms and the second the vehicle stopped they came marching up the front walk in perfect unison.

They knocked on the front door and let themselves in. They were funny-looking caricatures of geese with long straight necks, exaggerated beaks, and black beady eyes.

They came to take me away.

(My Lesson: The stuff in your mind is way scarier than what’s really out there. And; if you’re brave enough, you might just get a good chuckle.)