Sunday, June 10, 2012

Motivation isn't Inspiration

  It's Sunday morning, the house is quiet and I can choose how I want to spend the day.  This is a privilege and I know it.  Pete has taken charge of the Orion unit and I am free.  Given that I have hours of freedom, what I want to do is make something.  I want to be in the zone.   It's not writing I'm looking to start with.  I want to start with my hands, with broader movements. 
Now.  Inspiration. 
Hmm.  There's no equivalent to checking to see if it's plugged in.  I can go put my feet in the water and wait.  But I know that's not going to work. Works for phone appointments.  This is something altogether different.
And something - I've had to admit of late - that I've utterly and shamelessly taken for granted.
I mean, me.  Damn me.  What an asshole!
  I've written more than once that I never get blocked. 
 I can always make something beautiful.
I can always make toys.

I wasn't lying.  At the time it was true.  Because I took the inspiration for granted.  Without it, where is my motivation? Motivation is not inspiration.  They're not the same thing at all.  But they're related.
Let's think about that.  Inspiration brings motivation.  Inspiration can breathe life into the most exhausted of souls.  It can animate, re-animate the immobile, wake the sleeper, slap inertia into a running leap.

Can motivation inspire?  What motivates an artist to make art?  Artists know these answers. They're the same answers that motivate everyone to every thing.  Survival, duty, guilt, shame, love, boredom, coffee and so on and on.

Can motivation lead to inspiration?  Well, I can tell you from experience that inspiration often comes on strongest when I'm already working.

How do I know I'm going to get up and go to work?  I just realized that I will. Just now. Because my hands have twisted my hair into a bun and stuck a pencil in it, almost unconsciously.

I'm not inspired today, but I'm motivated.  Today I'm motivated by my desire for inspiration.  I want it, and it's not hovering around waiting for me.  I'm going to have to work for it.  I may have to apologize for taking it for granted.  Fair enough.

I don't know what will come of my work today, but when I tie on my apron I'll mean it.  When I tie on my apron I'll understand that there's no guarantee inspiration will follow.  But effort will.  I'll give it my best effort.

We can't always begin inspired.  Sometimes we have to begin with motivation. Motivation is not inspiration, but it doesn't need to be.  It is its own creature, with its own purpose. It's gritty and real and present. It has mass and requires a different sort of fuel and can survive without inspiration.  It's something altogether different from inspiration, and it seems that this is my curriculum for today.


Diandra said...

In many cases, inspiration comes when we start to act.

Michaela said...

Thank you. I needed just this. no maore waiting now, just doing.menspo

DavidK said...

True words, these.

And there are the days when I'd be overjoyed just to get the motivation; inspiration is so far in the distance that I can't even see the dust it's kicking up as it runs away...

Drinne said...

In judaisim there is something called Kavanah the "intention of the heart" and most frequently it is cited as a requirement for ritual prayer. But when you are learning the ritual prayers that are said at set points during the day you are taught ( because Judiasim is really a "doing" religion) that you wrap the tefillin or say the prayer or do the thing not BECAUSE you have kavanah but because by doing it when you are supposed to you have kept the space for it and given it the opportunity to be present.

Of course it's great if you can say every prayer with kavanah, but it's still holy if you perform the mitzvah without it, because not performing the prayer means that you've cut yourself off from the possibility of it.

Inspiration is like kavanah (or maybe they're the same thing) sometimes it fills the creation and provides the intent, but sometimes it comes when doing the action fulfills the task while im progress and if it doesn't show up, well then you've at least kept up the practice of the thing you are doing so that when the inspiration comes you'll be able to meet it completely.

Doing things is holy. No divine beings needed : )