Week 3-Friends. Inspiration or drain?

When is a cup of coffee just a cup of coffee, or more appropriately in my case, when is a martini really a Pimm’s 19?
This week on the search for inspiration in life, I took on the model of writing and connecting with people who give me energy. Emily Carr had the group of Seven, her sisters and various supporters in the town that traipsed through her studio and joined her for picnics. I had phone conversations, I wrote actual letters to people and I had a delicious Pimm’s 19 at a local watering hole with an inspiring and thoughtful friend.

Emily wrote of her ongoing discourse with Lawren Harris:

You need not expect Lawren Harris to do your thinking for you. He suggests-leaves you to ask questions if you are interested-answers them patiently and fully-then gives you, as it were, a gently push-off and leaves you to think things our for yourself. That’s real teaching.
From the Chapter Moving Forward 1933-34 in Hundreds and Thousands

For those of you just joining the blog, this is week three of my year long quest to be more inspired and creative in my life. I’m focusing on different artists in different fields and using their tried and true methods for inspiration to see if they work in my life too.

I don’t have Lawren Harris, but I chose to talk with people in my life whom I respect and who I felt would give energy to a real talk and not be a drain. I wanted these conversations to move past the day-to-day details of weather, and to move to something that really mattered to me. Not a complaining, woe is me, talk. But a talk about things that I feel passionately about, or that I feel have a larger footprint in our worlds. I was surprised to find the approach to this little experiment made me nervous. I would have to reveal something of myself, my soft underbelly. I would be more invested in this conversation than in basic “how’s the weather” talk.

Call a friend:
I began by speaking to my friend, who inspires me with his lust for living, about a difficult professional decision and also we paused to reflect on the importance of being a loner sometimes to do what our work required of us. This wasn’t a long drawn out talk, but it meant so much to know I wasn’t alone in feeling the call for withdrawal. This was the easy one.
The lesson I took away: When I struggle with something and feel unsure of how to proceed, a well placed call to a friend can give me fresh language around the problem. It is also great to have a ‘me too’ moment.

Drinks with a friend

A cocktail never hurts if you want to talk about things that matter. Again, I wanted to talk about larger issues in our world, and not just about our kids or our husbands. We had a wonderful wide-ranging conversation and even entered into religion and lived to tell the tale. We are going to meet again next month and do it all again. What I learned? Even without and agenda, conversations can be revealing and supportive.

Write a letter:
The hardest homework by far was to write letters. Not email, but letters. Pen to paper. I selected four people. All friends and colleagues, but some closer than others. Again, I wrote about real things that mattered to me. It made me feel so naked. I can’t imagine they would be disparaging, but still as I dropped the letters into the box yesterday I had an urge to dig them back out!
The lesson I took away? It was so foreign to write about something that mattered. Email has really trained me to write the facts and to be quick about it. To express myself in long hand about what I am passionate about was unnerving but good. I recommend it. I’m not sure the letter needed to be sent. Maybe I just needed to write it.

This was a very interesting week in the process of looking for more creativity and inspiration. I absolutely gained strength from this exercise. I just didn’t feel so lonely or riddles with doubts in the week. I felt supported, encouraged and I knew that somewhere, someone thought good things about me. That is a good thing.

Next week:

Kandinsky’s creation of purely abstract work followed a long period of development and maturation of intense thought based on his artistic experiences. He called this devotion to inner beauty, fervor of spirit, and spiritual desire inner necessity; it was a central aspect of his art. From Wikipedia.
I will be reading up on Kandinsky this week, the end of my January spent with the painters. I will be, like Kandinsky, focusing on inner beauty, fervor of spirit and spiritual desire and see what that brings bubbling up.
What do those terms mean to me? What do they mean to you? How would you live that? Let me know what you think. It seems to me to be a fascinating place to look for creativity and inspiration for anyone.

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