Posted by: Serena | 22nd Mar, 2008

I’m an inspiration junkie.

(The first step is admitting you have a problem.)

After a tiring evening of assorted geekery, I found myself engaged in conversation with a friend. The usual kind of late night conversation. Languid, wandering, tangential. And full of unexpected thoughts that eventually inspired this post on my film blog.

But what about this inspiration? Suddenly I found myself on fire. It took me completely off guard. Surprise! It’s four in the morning, and one minute I’m half awake, ready to collapse on the couch, and the next minute I’m up and engaged, captured by thoughts that are just too intriguing and inspiring to let pass by.

How does this happen?

I was struck by inspiration like this in high school, in childhood, of course I was. But nothing like it’s been while I’ve been here. The frequency, the intensity of everything that flies around in my head sometimes, whether I want it to or not. It’s overwhelming, it’s exciting, it’s frightening, it’s one of my favorite things about being alive. It’s the reason I do this. It’s an addiction. A yearning. A passion. Byatt’s kick galvanic, though intrapersonal rather than interpersonal.

I go to classes every day, hoping for my next fix. Waiting for the next bolt of lightning to strike. I want thoughts that will completely disarm me, engage me, infuriate me, so insistent that I feel strangled by my own ideas. Uncompromising insistence and complete irresistibility. (Is it possible for something to be incapacitating and energizing at the same time?)

Is this intellectual masochism? Is it healthy? Are the only people who recommend this way of living the ones who are already hopelessly entwined in it?

I don’t think I’d even believe that this kind of inspiration were possible, at least not in this frequency, if it weren’t for Gardner Campbell. I’ve called him many things, mostly complimentary: inspirational, naïve, hopeful, optimistic, disorganized. But he gets this, the most important thing. The way that you can wake up in the middle of the night with an idea that practically drags you to pen and paper. The look on a student’s face when seemingly ordinary class discussion has triggered an extraordinary thought or connection. How achingly painful it can be to have an idea that can’t be explored until other, more mundane tasks are done with. And maybe the fire will be out by then. The constant fear that lightning won’t hit again.

Correct me if I’m wrong, Dr. C, but I think you believe in all that. You believe that this brand of inspiration (not the usual over-the-counter, $5.99 a bottle kind, but the illicit, mind-altering kind only whispered about in even the most deviant circles) not only strikes, but strikes frequently, if given the proper environment. You don’t just believe this; you know it.

I think I do too.


You’re not wrong, Arynna. 🙂