What inspires you? Do you know how to recognize inspiration? Inspiration comes in many forms. It may be something big that causes us to rush to the drawing board, the boardroom, the computer, piano, easel, kitchen or wherever else we need to be at that moment. It many also be something small, an “aha” or “eureka” moment that gives us a brief flash of joy, a scratch to that invisible itch, something that we file away in the deep recesses of the brain to save and pull out when least expected.
It’s not just artists and writers who need inspiration. We all need it, especially with the overload of gloom and doom blaring at us in all directions from the media. We need inspiration to give us direction, to survive at work, to support a project, and face it, we need inspiration to just get through the day. Inspiration gives us hope.
We are inspired by different things. Some people are inspired by a story they hear, for others it will be a song on the radio that sends them careening down memory lane. Perhaps it is the trill of a bird or a beautiful carpet of green as you walk through a field. It may even be a familiar smell.
Of course, the most obvious source of inspiration comes from other people. People are inspired by other people. I have met many inspirational people in my life. (I’ve met a few uninspiring people as well!) The inspirational people have left snippets of wisdom, encouragement, ideas, excitement and motivation to be drawn upon time and time again. Their support and their influence, whether they know it or not, is invaluable.
In the words of William Shakespeare, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”
Take the late Thelma Pepper (1920-2020). I have been following her career for many years but it was only on her passing that I looked deeper into her life and felt the inspiration come through. How could her story not be inspirational? If you have never heard of Thelma Pepper, a celebrated Saskatchewan photographer, all you need to do is ask Google, and you will get a smorgasbord of information. In fact, I’ve included some links to a few pieces you can read. There are many good articles written about Thelma, so I’m not going to get into the details of her life and her achievements, which were many. What fascinates and inspires me, is that she didn’t start until she was 60 years of age, and her four children had all left the house. This seems to be the plight of many women. When we are in our 20’s or 30’s and just starting to find ourselves we “settle down” and have children, devoting all of our time and attention to their lives and endless hours spent driving to soccer, swimming, gymnastics, trying to get supper on the table and stock the cupboard with easy-to-prepare lunches and snacks. And then there life’s problems and heavens, don’t forget the worrying. That never stops! Once the kids grow up (you notice I’m not going to say leave home), we find ourselves with more time on our hands. This is time to spend on ourselves. For example, rather than driving the kids to the soccer fields, we now have time to drive to the pickle ball court!
Thelma would have gone through the same things as many other mothers. And when she finally got the chance, she embraced life and jumped in feet first. That was 40 years ago! How difficult it must have been in 1980 for a 60 year old woman to basically start all over and pursue a lifelong passion! She admitted that she had spent her whole life looking after others and not doing anything for herself. So, in the 1980’s, while volunteering at a seniors’ residence, she decided to take photos of the residents. She ended up with hundreds of portraits and her career was launched. It was a career that included four major exhibitions across Saskatchewan, Canada and Europe. She continued to be involved in photography until around age 92, but was still giving interviews right up to her passing in December of 2020, at the age of 100.
Inspirational, that’s for sure. Now this doesn’t mean that we have to find a new career at the age of 60. It does mean that inspiration never dies and we should always be looking for ways to feel good about ourselves. That is a key to happiness and longevity.
Here’s a poem I found by Welsh poet and writer William Henry Davies, or W.H. Davies (1871-1940). Davies fancied himself a wanderer, spending much time in the UK and the USA. Considered one of the Georgian Poets, his work was based mainly on his observations of life’s hardships, his own adventures and people he met on his journey. To me, this poem reflects the choices we can make to be inspired and a not so subtle reminder to take the time to appreciate, listen and follow inspiration.
by W. H. Davies
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare
No time to stand beneath the boughs,
And stare as long as sheep and cows
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare if, full of care we have no time to stand and stare.
Here’s an interesting side note. My daughters and I recently got away from the city and spent some time in a 100 year old farmhouse. It was a lovely house and we truly enjoyed our brief stay. At the bottom of the stairs there was a wall hanging that caught my eye every time I saw it. It said, “What is this life if, so full of care, we have no time to stand and stare.” –WH Davies
Aha! Synchronicity or what? Up until I started writing this blog I had never heard of WH Davies. And now, this poem has come up twice in a short period of time. I think I should pay attention to its message.