Where do you find inspiration?
For those tending the up and coming generation, many stand like generational sentries illuminating a past and instilling values for a ‘future yet unknown’, delighting in grandchildren who see the world through unblemished eyes.
How about those lucky enough to travel, gathering sights and sounds from exotic ports of call?
For this ‘time traveler’, my inspirations come in many forms, from recognizing the link(s) between our gray skies and global warming, to congratulating myself for figuring out where my contacts went in Gmail, to wondering why my Christmas cactus blooms in June.
Inspiration is everywhere. It’s in the books I read where my habitual underlining looks like – redacting – but at least I can read why something caught my inner muse. I wish there was time and space to share all the layers that Derrick Jensen in The Culture of Make Believe reveals. His writings explore the lines of thought and experience that connect the atrocities of our culture throughout history. Extraordinarily well written but at times difficult to grasp.
Words intrigue me. A simple word like ‘lists,’ took me down the proverbial rabbit hole to explore why, at least in our family, we jot down whatever is flowing through our minds on scraps of paper. Even while working on parish archives, I find my parents scribbled notes in and on 50-year-old documents. Then thanks to Brain Pickings, an inventory of cross-disciplinary interestingness, spanning art, science, design, history, and philosophy, where Ray Bradbury’s piece on Creativity and List Making created an association between my scribbles and my hunger for creative thought. Then in Parker Palmer’s There is a Season in which he poses it as an “intuitive hunch that may turn into a greater insight.”
The three-dimensional visuals of film fill me with historical material to bring to interviews, triggering hidden memories not otherwise brought to light. A perfect example was the Netflix movie Circus, a well-done documentary on the history of the beloved past time. How about an oldie, Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) starring James Cagney about George M. Cohen’s life? Our family long theorized where our youngest brother’s name George Michael came from, only to find out that George M. stood for George Michael. Mystery solved? And a recent library find, The Woman in the Iron Coffin: The Life of a Free Black Woman in 19th Century New York, a 90-minute journey of genealogical discovery and burial practice knowledge.
Remember when we used to walk to the tune of our new-fangled 8-track cassette player or square CD players? I-phones have certainly made it easier to listen to the world while walking. One favorite listening partner is NPR’s Shankar Vedantam on Hidden Brain who uses science and storytelling to reveal the unconscious patterns that drive human behavior, shape our choices and direct our relationships.
Music continues to stimulate me and quiets my ever-present mind-traffic. 2018 uncovered Jim Scott, a singer/songwriter and classical guitarist. His May Your Life Be Like a Song, touches my almost 70-year-old heart. The lyrics and vocal of Wanting Memories by Sweet Honey in the Rock say it all. “I’m sitting here wanting memories to teach me, to see the beauty in the world through my own eyes.” And of course, Fragile, with Sting and Stevie Wonder. Stevie reminds us ‘how fragile we are’ and inspires me as I listen harder while traveling with each raconteur down through layers of time living vicariously through their narratives.
Incorporating music into my many presentations is now a must. Give a listen, for we all know how music calms the ‘too-busy’ beast. Against this backdrop, inspiration weaves its way through my life as a storyteller who wants to share her way of seeing.
Thank you for your time. How can Legacies help you capture your story?
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