Celebrate an inspiring life

Today, the day I’m writing this post, is Pentecost. What do we celebrate at Pentecost? Well; a real Christian would be able to tell you: it’s a remembrance of the day that the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples of Christ, just about some 40 days after He died. (Don’t pin me on the 40 days,.. I was told there were 40 days in between His death and recieving the Holy Spirit,.. but I recounted it, and for some reason I didn’t come to 40,.. but I’m sticking to 40 days anyway; just because,..) Yes. So that’s Pentecost. But what do you do at Pentecost?

When we are free for the Christmas holidays, we all have our own tradition: most of us buy a christmas tree, give presents, have a delicious meal with the family; stuff like that. There also is a tradition for Easter: it usually involves eating eggs and decorating the house with yellow flowers and little chicks.

But Pentecost? I don’t know of any Pentecost tradition. But there should be! Because; actually on Pentecost the most remarkable thing is remembered:

You know what the Holy Spirit brought (or symbolizes?) Inspiration. Christians might call it God given, and I don’t object. But inspiration is for everyone, even if you don’t believe in something like ‘God given’. Inspiration can be very secular, but it still is a vital necessity: it gives you a life’s purpose, and no one can live without a purpose in life.

So, how should we celebrate Pentecost?

Getting inspiration might come easy to some; those people usually chose to become artists. Because living an inspiring life is addictive: it gets you ‘high’, maybe like on drugs,.. But even to artists, sometimes everything can become plain, boring and inspirationless. There’s no shame to that. It happens to everyone, the trick is to know how to get back on track. And Pentecost might be the best day to do that: celebrate inspiration and get high on it!

How to get inspired

You know; I read a book or two about this subject: Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big magic is one of the best books on inspiration. She believes the inspiring ideas are alive entities that come and visit you uninvited, on moments you don’t expect them to come around. They tend to stick with you for a while and seduce you to execute them: bring the idea to creation. I love how Gilbert explained about the world of ideas, and I believe it is spot on. I also believe you can evoke inspiring ideas to come and visit. Angela Duckworth explains in her book Grit that all you actually need is a little bit of interest, to get passionate about something. She tells us to keep an open mind to anything, because anything can get you inspired.

I have some experience in getting inspired as well. That’s why I came up with this roadmap for an inspiring life. Starting today. Enjoy!!

Look around

Use your eyes, but also use your ears and other senses. They tell you a whole lot on what’s going on in the world. Usually we don’t take the time to really look around and be mindfull of what we experience. We are ‘programmed’ to remark only a few things of our surroundings. Be like an ADHD child: see everything, and pay some attention to it, especially to the most unremarkable things, like the shape of a cloud or the spark of light on a broken bottle. Don’t see the world and your environment as a whole; try to see all parts of it, that make it a whole.

Or,.. (if you’re a struggling artist, and) if you tried to concentrate at the less-obvious, but it just doesn’t work; concentrate at the obvious: that big block of concrete on your road to an inspiring life, might be worth some study. Stop seeing it as ‘just’ something that blocks you, because it absolutely is more than that. Try to see that.

Take notes

Some people advise to take a noteblock with you, all the time. In that way you literally can take notes on everything you think is remarkable. If you do so; write down every little thing that caught your eye. I don’t do that actually. I should, but I don’t like filling up papers with endless words, which, because of their quantity, are hard to retrieve, and fill up a lot of space in my cupboards (space I don’t have). Alternatives for a notebook are:

• your phone’s camera: take pictures!!

• friends who don’t mind you tell a lot of bullshit to.

The last thing I really recommend. Have a friend with you all the time, or send them messages: that works too. If you share things you find remarkable (and you have a good friend who doesn’t think you’re going loco if you talk about how repetitious the course of the hand of the clock is) your friend will give you space to explore your notes, maybe because he/she will ask questions, or maybe because he/she doesn’t get it, and you have to explain why you think it is remarkable. That really helps; it is better than just taking notes or taking pictures.

Do a little research

And when I say a little, I do mean; a little. Let’s say, for example, you noticed that there’s a bird in the neighbourhood, making a certain sound: just see if you can find out how this bird is called. You don’t have to do anything with this information. All you need to think is, how nice it’ll be if your future self will be able to name the bird, next time you hear him.

Ask questions

When you noticed something, (don’t be picky on your subject, anything can be noticable) and decided you wanted to know more about it, (again: everything is worth to know more about it!) it’s time to ask questions.

I especially like the ‘what if’ questions.

  • What if I ate a kiwi with peel and all: is it more healthy? Or,… will it itch in my throath?
  • What if we decided that dandelions should be a protected plant species? Would people appreciate the plant more, or would they hate it more?
  • What if plastic was banned (worldwide) overnight?

The classic-why question also does well:

  • Why does this plant have pointy leaves?
  • Why don’t people ever smile when they are traveling by public transport?
  • Why can’t we live our lives like any other regular animal?

Go search for answers

This either can be on the internet, or; which is more fun: find an answer in your own logic. If you search for answers on the internet you just might kill your creativity. Because most of the times there is an rigid answer: that’s just not fun! Think outside of the box and don’t take the ‘normal’ answer. Be like a child: imagine a world where all answers can be good answers. Find the answer you like.

Sometimes searching for an answer on the internet can be usefull though, but don’t stop the moment you found this answer; question the answer.

Search for the obstacles in the road

This actually is similar to asking the ‘what if’ question, but now you are allowed to be pessimistic, because everything in life comes with downsides. They come with upsides too; of course, but if you only look at the upsides, life would be too wonderful to get inspired. So search for trouble.

This might just sound like the cliché on the troubled artist: the mythe some people tell you that only people who experienced a whole lot of bad luck can be blessed with creativity. That’s a lot of bull. You don’t have to experience misfortune in order to create or imagine wonderful things. You only need to think a bit crooked, you only have to imagine Cruella de Vil will stop by, making trouble. Remember what she tried to do with something beautiful like 99 dalmation puppies? She wanted to kill them all in order to make a fur coat.

What would Cruella do when she found out about your little note? Your note about how wonderful it would be if fireflies and daisies would merge into lumineus daisies, for example. Something terrible might happen to your idea, right? That kind of trouble.

Find a solution for trouble

Of course: you don’t let Cruella get away with it. She will make a whole lot of trouble and find a way to upset your beautiful imagination, but you will beat her! Find out how.

What’s in it for you?

So; you got interested in some remarkable subject, or just a phenomenon. You stirred up your interest a little by asking questions about it; did a little research. You even invited Cruella de Vil to ruin your idea. You battled with her and your idea is still there. What to do next with your interest in red autumn leaves? (For example)

This just might be the hardest part of living an inspiring life: this is what it is all about. But the battle with Cruella, or answering the questions about your idea, might have triggered something already. If you came upon a problem, concerning your idea, you just might want to execute the solution you came up with.

For example; I wondered why most people don’t care about the meaning of Pentecost, being the most creative holiday on the Christian calendar. First I decided I just wanted to remind all of my Facebook friends that Pentecost is about inspiration: wishing them all an inspiring Pentecost. But, although some of my Facebook friends liked this post, no one commented on it. So I came up with this blogpost: putting some more effort in it, and helping people to find inspiration. Sending the message that the Holy Spirit might just be out there, but you still have to invite it, or your life will stay plain boring as it always was. Or, for the less religious people: ideas and inspiration (it really doesn’t matter how you call it!! It’s just the same) are just out there; so invite it!!

So the answer on the question on ‘what’s in it for you’, always is: there’s work to do! There’s a hell of a job waiting for you, making your idea come to life. Do it!

Create your roadmap

Hey; wait a minute: this blogpost promised me I would GET a roadmap to inspiration. Now I have to create my own?

Eh,.. yeah. I gave you the roadmap to inspiration, and now you have to do the rest. Inspiration is cool to get, but, just like Elizabeth Gilbert said: ideas will leave you, if you don’t do anything with them. Worse even: ideas will tell each other you are not the person planning on executing them, so there’s no need to bother you by their visit. Ideas will avoid you, eventually; if you don’t act on them. So if you want to keep inspired: execute your ideas, and do it good!

In order to realize your ideas, you need a roadmap. What do you want to achieve, and when do you want to achieve it?

Get there, one step at a time. Small steps will get you there. Plan them.

Follow your roadmap

It’s as easy as that. Just follow your roadmap. If it’s a good one, it will get you to executing your idea. If it is a bad one, you’ll need another. Create another roadmap and go on.

That’s the inspiring life. And I think it’s a blessed life.


Big magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Grit by Angela Duckworth

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