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There is a universal antidote to a dull heart, an uninspired spirit, a fog of disillusion.
This antidote has inspired revolutions, it breaks hearts and mends them again, it sends chills down our collective spine and, most importantly, it’s available to every single one of us, at almost any time.
That antidote is language, words, writing, stories.
Lest it seem I’m being a bit dramatic here, mull over the following words, and see if they don’t stir something inside of you.
First up, Herman Hesse:
“This day will never come again and anyone who fails to eat and drink and taste and smell it will never have it offered to him again in all eternity. The sun will never shine as it does today…You must play your part and sing a song, one of your best.”
Next, a little Martha Graham:
“There is…only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist…The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
Some Alan Watts, for good measure:
“As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being. If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, ‘It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.’ How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment—from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies—how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?”
And, finally, some Steve Jobs:
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
Okay fine, here’s one more:
The quote that inspired this whole thing is from Zadie Smith, and it lends a dizzyingly meta aspect to this whole idea of reading other peoples’ writing about being inspired to inspire you to live your life and write about it. (You still with me? I got lost.) It goes like this:
“The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.”
So, yes, reading words like this is one way to reinspire our lives.
The other way, of course, is to be the person writing them. Your words can inspire revolutions, your words can break hearts and mend them again, your words are available to you whenever you need them.
They will make clear and direct the channel of expression that is uniquely ours, stop us from gulping down undigested experiences, allow us to play our part and sing our song every single day, and show us exactly where our heart is trying to lead us.
There is, quite literally, no time like the present to start. So let’s write our hearts out, wake ourselves up, and reinspire our purpose.