Not too long ago I wrote a poem inspired by my lunch. “Your lunch?” you ask. Yes, my lunch. It was a mushroom risotto frozen meal from Lean Cuisine. They just make it so darn convenient to have a hot meal in the middle of the workday. The poem started out like this:
“Patience is like
A mushroom risotto.
It takes time
And constant stirring
To bring the concept
Into a delicious reality.”
What a metaphor! The thing is, we can find inspiration from just about anything if we are open to the possibilities. How is a child inspired to build a fort out of blankets and pillows? How is it that I write so prolifically every day? I get my inspirations from the memory of a feeling I am experiencing, from a shape or a particular colour, or from a phrase uttered by the reader of the most recent audiobook I am listening to. Luckily, the three consecutive words I took from Walden wasn’t plagiarism because I looked it up: plagiarism is five consecutive words to my understanding.
Depression and Creativity
Even when I was in the throes of my mental illness, my desire for creativity did not wane. Not only did I write poetry and blog, but I also painted beautiful canvases with acrylic paint, I knitted countless colourful ruffle scarves and I even built a device so that I could boil bits of used paper together into a mush, and then strain it out onto a flat, mesh surface to make my own homemade paper. There was a paper mill where I lived in Basel and I remember it from then.
Making food can elicit inspiration for creativity as well. Imagine making a green salad and decorating it with equally bright colours of red and green tomatoes, orange carrots, white feta cheese and brown chopped kalamata olives. In fact, I was so impressed with my food creations and that time in my life, that I documented the moments by capturing them in professional-grade photographs.
Why is Inspiration Important?
Imagine a world in which none of us uses our imagination. Can you think of how dull that life would be? If the sun and blue skies did not inspire me, then the world may as well be dark and bleak. But you don’t have to be seeing in order to be inspired. No matter what your disability, the fact that you have a mind is your green ticket to creativity.
Having inspiration is the zest of life. It’s what motivates us to get through the day. Say you are at work and you get really hungry toward the end of the day. You have a craving for chocolate and you decide to stop by Trader Joe’s on the way home to pick up their frozen, microwaveable, one person serving size lava cake along with some vanilla bean ice cream. If that idea was not inspiration, then don’t talk to me. Inspiration gives us something to look forward to and bodes for positive internal emotional experiences. Tell me about one person with depression who doesn’t want to feel better. No? I didn’t think so. When we feel crappy, we always pine for the better times.
For Those Who Don’t Believe in Creativity
Some people don’t think that they have one creative bone in their body. I’ve heard it said. But don’t let that speech deceive you. They have it and there are things which inspire them, which they then express in a different way. Inspiration can be driving to the desert in search of peaceful contentment. Inspiration can be signing up for a marathon. Hey, if you’re not a runner and you want to run a marathon, you sure have to get creative on how you are going to fit all of that running into your schedule.
Some people use their creative skills at work. You don’t have to be a professional artist or graphic designer to do this. If you are making sales calls all day, you can vary the ways in which you approach potential clients over the phone and use your creativity in that way. I will tell you, this can be quite entertaining, even if you cannot imagine it to be so at this time.
Other Forms of Inspiration and Creativity
Have you ever wondered how your therapist can come up with just the right answer at just the right moment, even when you were trying to set them off balance with a curveball of a question? Like when you ask them to reveal details about their personal life and they find a way to swiftly throw the question right back at you without you noticing the shift in direction. Now, that’s creativity. If you ever want to talk to someone who is full of inspirations, talk to a therapist! They don’t mind questions at all. You can even repeat the same question over and over again, and they will find different ways of approaching your question each time. How do they do it? How would you do it? Simply ask yourself questions, any questions, and then come up with answers. You might find that you have to use your imagination in order to get to some of those answers.
There is no one set way to be imaginative. You can do it however you like. The great thing is that it’s a human quality. I was going to say that if you have two feet and walk upright, you are able to have an imagination. But that’s not right. Even babies have this ability. It’s never too early to be introduced to new stimuli which creates novelty and the desire to learn more about new things. This desire feeds the imagination and the aptitude for creativity. So the next time you are microwaving a frozen meal, go ahead and wonder. Imagine what metaphors you could pull from the experience.