The Casini view of Saturn from the perspective of its North Pole has been the desktop wallpaper on my laptop for a few years. The photograph provides inspiration each time I boot up the old computer.
I had some extra time yesterday and wondered if I could find a different desktop wallpaper image that might inspire me in other ways. There were many to choose from at a few free websites. There were several images which had been painted by the late Leonid Afremov that were quite striking. I clicked on one of the thumbnails. It brought up a sized and formatted image that would be a great candidate to replace Saturn. There was also a link to more of Afremov’s work. There was another painting, this one in “portrait” orientation, that would work on my phone. The painting is titled, “Melody of Passion”. The vibrant colors and bright tone of the work “clicked” in my head. I saved the vertically oriented image to my working file folder to consider later.
I then returned to the horizontally configured painting and was ready to install it as the desktop wallpaper. As I right-clicked on Saturn’s rings, I reconsidered. It was if the Planet was calling out to me. The Casini view had more to offer. The Afremov painting will have to remain in a come-up file for awhile longer.
I don’t want to over-think why a particular view of Saturn deeply inspires me. However, it did inspire today’s topic. Why do certain, particular images, or sounds, or other sensations inspire us to explore outside the usual boundaries of our capabilities? What inspired Friedrich Nietzsche to explore philosophy? What fueled Ludwig van Beethoven’s musical genius? Did they have little books of pithy quotations in their personal libraries? For that matter, what inspires the originators of inspirational quotations?
Some quotes border on being corny: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”–Audrey Hepburn. Other quotes are more profound: “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”–Robert Frost. The Hepburn quote inspires the reader’s self-confidence. The Frost quote inspires a deep existential search. Each of these quotes inspires us in important personal ways.
It’s usually something simple that triggers the creative impulse. That something simple is not usually predictable. A spider dropping down from the ceiling on her web might inspire the poet or novelist. A twinkling star in the Big Dipper constellation might trigger the drive of a young person to study astrophysics. The object or thought sets a mysterious mental process in motion that ultimately results in art, invention, or other amazing results. To analyze the inspiration too closely can kill it.
Whether we believe inspiration has some sort of theological or divine source or if we believe it arises from somewhere in our subconscious, an uplifting change in circumstances results when inspiration fires our actions. Inspiration is like the starting switch on the car. Once the switch activates the engine, the car can take us places.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Nigerian novelist and poet, Ben Okri. “The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.”