Thursday, September 13, 2012

I is for Inspiration


Here is is, 11:15pm, and I’m just now sitting down to write today’s post.  Somebody make me feel better and assure me that I’m not the only one who’s ever found themselves staring at a keyboard as the day dwindles away, the ‘publish’ key impertinently mocking, waiting for a flash of inspiration.

Inspiration 9-12-12
                                                                       Image credit: kibsri /

Though, in truth, once I actually sat down at the keyboard, I knew full well what I intended to write about today:  Illya Kuryakin.  You know him, right?  The character from The Man From U.N.C.L.E.?  I loved that show when I was a kid.  And, every once in a while—like today—I’ll be watching an episode of NCIS, and for just a moment, David McCallum is no longer adorable Ducky, but is magically transformed back into Ilya.  When that moment hit this afternoon, my first thought was, “Illya starts with I!”, and I was convinced it was my Muse sending me that elusive spark creative types like to call inspiration.

But once I sat down to type, prepared to tell you all about the Russian spy, and the sensation the character caused among the female fans (though my heart always belonged to Napoleon Solo), my mind actually started to wander just a bit.  Not just to the inconvenient reality that I wasn’t sure I actually knew enough about Illya to fill a blog post, but to the more intriguing inquiry of what it was that caused me to come up with the idea to begin with.  What, exactly, is inspiration?

According to Webster, it is as follows:

a : a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation

b : the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions

c : the act of influencing or suggesting opinions

Well, a sudden flash of an aging actor in a role from almost a half-century earlier hardly qualifies as a “sacred revelation”, and I’m not convinced it was any sort of divine influence that caused me to think of it today, though it’s true that I can watch hours and hours of NCIS and never once think of Illya.  It’s just sometimes . . .

So was it a power that moved my intellect or emotions?  I might could go with that.  Intellectually, of course, I know that the same actor portrayed both characters, so it’s hardly new information, but there is that undeniable sense of nostalgia that comes when thinking about something enjoyed in younger years, so there’s a definite emotional connection when the flash of memory occurs.

And the memory of the character today definitely was influencing and suggesting, as here I am writing about him, when I certainly had no prior intention to discuss a decades-old imaginary character. 

Still, to break it down to a definition seems to do a disservice to something so intrinsically beautiful.  I want to think of inspiration as a sunset bleeding across an amber sky, the velvety touch of baby’s skin, the lingering kiss of a first love.  I want it to be bold and beautiful and unexpected.  I want a bolt of lightning slicing through darkness, a crash of symbols in the midst of soothing strings, a sudden burst of cool rain on a warm summer’s day.  That’s how inspiration is intended to be.

But you know what?  I’ll settle for a tickle of a childhood memory while watching television, for the instinct that recognizes something, even when it’s not incredibly grand.  I will gladly accept the inexplicable train of thought that leads from a reasonable starting place to a most illogical destination.  Because however inspiration is supposed to be, I find that what it really is is irreverent, inquisitive, improbable, and invigorating.  And, maybe most important of all, inspiration is always individual.

So what inspires you?

I’m linking up with the folks over at ABC Wednesday.  Pop on over to check out even more I posts; I’m sure you’ll find them to be informative, illuminating, and inventive. ABCW11