When fashion designer Paul Smith released his book - You Can Find Inspiration in Everything - in 2003, I loved it. It is a beautiful coffee table book full of images that spark the imagination. However, the older I've got, and the more I've listened to other creatives talk about their work, the question: "what inspires you?" is usually met with a broad-brush stroke answer of "oooh, everything!" and to be honest, this non-specific, catch all answer leaves me feeling a bit cheated. Yes, inspiration is everywhere, but what specifically sparks interest, ignites a fire and causes creative action?
Well, when I was asked to write as a post on here about what inspires me by the lovely editor Zanou Nelie @zanounelie I knew I didn't want to leave my readers feeling the same.
So, todays post is a little different - it's more of a list. I admit to being inspired by the most random things - but just like building a fire, what results in the actual change from dead bits of wood to a glowing furnace is more specific and particular. So here goes...
I am inspired by:
Words. Specifically, stories. These can be written, read or told. But I have always loved a good story. What makes a story good in my opinion, is usually where change occurs - the beast becomes human, the mole relocates to the river, a young orphan becomes a student and then the teacher. Another theme within stories, along with transformation, is battling against the odds, survival and overcoming - the swimmer reaches the shore, as in the story of Diana Niad, or the young woman survives the concentration camp, as told by Holocaust survivor Corrie Ten Boom. These teach me what is possible, what the human spirit is capable of and that we are all able to reach beyond ourselves and find the courage to keep going. This links to my second inspiration.
Courage. People who demonstrate it, live it and share it with others. Those who choose courage over comfort and find the strength to live out their truth, especially in the face of opposition.
History. This links closely to stories; I love to know how things originated and what impact they have had. I especially like historical buildings, imagining the lives of the people who lived there. I get really passionate about Victorian architecture and bemoan the current trend for ''future thinking buildings' that are led by aesthetics rather than by sustainability, craftsmanship, heritage and building on the shoulders of those who have gone before.
Facts. I love a good fact, I like dropping it into a conversation, and seeing people’s reaction - as though I know stuff! My problem is I cannot remember them all, I am certainly no Stephen Fry! But a fact can set off an idea or cause me to remember a memory. I love learning, and even if it doesn’t stay in my brain for long, I get a real rush of excitement when I find out something new.
Our physical world. This includes our bodies and nature. I am awe struck by how our bodies work - it is incredible and fascinates me. Similarly, the nature that surrounds us, and how it works in harmony to achieve a planet we can survive on and call home. The beauty of it, and the 'just because I can' of it - patterns, shapes, colours, smell, taste, sounds. I am dumfounded by the greed and superiority of people and organisations that play god with the resources we have been given. Anyway, I digress.
On a lighter note, music inspires me. The genius John Williams, the rhapsody of Rachmaninov and again, the story telling of Country music.
And finally, movement. If I am stuck on something - a problem, an article, a tough day - walking or yoga usually shifts the energy in my body and I can find a solution. It's amazing really, I can ask myself a question at the start of a walk and have the answer (or something close enough) by the end.
So, here you have it, a definitive list of things that get me going and light a fire within. All of these ebb and flow throughout my life, using them to springboard ideas, choices and problem solve. I'd love to know what inspires you and your thoughts on what lights you up in the comments below or my Instagram @iamsarahalexcarter Here's to being inspired and finding your fire!
Image by Unsplash