Friday, August 28, 2015

Paralyzed by Inspiration

Is it possible to be paralyzed by inspiration? 

It's a concept that I've been sitting on for weeks now, maybe even longer. Maybe my whole adult life. I recently completed a long, arduous bedroom re-painting project, and in those focused hours spent in my head while bent on repair and precision and concentrated effort, I waited for the answer to hatch. 

I listened. I "leaned in." I realized I've been listening and leaning in for a long time. I'm starting to feel a cramp. 

I've always thought of inspiration as the light bulb moment that propels action. As that missing part of the equation that suddenly works the whole thing out and answers the question. The first stroke of a paintbrush that will define the rest of the work. The thought or feeling or sensation that causes motion. I always thought it included clarity and understanding.

But what if there's too much of it at one time? Is that even possible? Can you measure an intangible thing like inspiration? Does it sound ridiculous to say you feel "overly inspired?" Would that cause your work or project to become derailed and the vision muddy? Or is it then not even inspiration anymore, but some other sensation? 

But clearly, paralyzed is the very description of what is happening to me right now. I'm overwhelmed by emotions I am processing, by truths that are being spoken by others, by the curiosity I have about the world and the people in it, and most of all... by what I have to do with all of it. 

Something must be done, and action must be taken. Otherwise those bits and pieces of enlightenment are lost and forgotten, or, worse, they get stuck inside you and things turn dark and broody. Even now, as I'm trying to finally get something about this, no matter how shaky or fuzzy, out into words, I'm deleting and backspacing, editing and rewriting. I just can't fully define what it is - Artistic frustration? Procrastination? Fear? 

"If I keep my ideas in, they will eat me alive."
- Rayya Elias

Don't get me wrong. I'm not certain this being "overly inspired" is entirely a bad thing. I'm pretty sure it's much more desirable than the alternative. It's both exhilarating and frustrating. I'm simultaneously thrilled and excited by each day, and let down by what I don't accomplish because I can't establish a direction. I'm full of ideas and prospects and brimming with potential. I'm filling my ears and head and heart and soul with encouragement and teaching from people who have had the ability to sink their teeth into these dilemmas, filter out the nuggets of truth, spit and shine and write them down to help unburden others. Thank God for them.

I feel like the message is always the same: if you just get started, the answers will come. 

"Inspiration doesn't owe you anything. Once you've found a balance between fear and creativity you still have to do the work."
-Elizabeth Gilbert