Go after it
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London
I just love this quote. I think it applies to all sorts of inspiration, not just artistic or literary. If I have learned anything from life, one of the most indelible lessons of experience is that inactive brooding and rumination never solves anything. There’s a place, of course, for contemplation, discussion and reflection. But I suspect that the contemporary world gives far too little attention to disciplined effort and meaningful action. At least, I know I do.
As the venues for talk multiply– TV, radio, online, print, formal and informal meetings– the talk multiplies until it becomes our primary activity, and sometimes deceives us into thinking that merely by talking, we’ve done something to address what is bothering us. No wonder we end up feeling overwhelmed by undone tasks and unfulfilled aspirations.
Going after inspiration with a club does not mean going at it carelessly, or being fueled primarily by anger or frustration. In fact, I believe the sort of violence and mayhem fomented by gratuitously destructive outrage is the result of failure to undertake more meaningful steps. Acting on impulse is not the opposite of forethought; it’s the result of a pronounced lack of it.
Still, though planning is essential, it too often goes nowhere. Sometimes when I’m sorting though old papers I’ll come across goals and plans I wrote years ago and promptly forgot. Usually, they’re quite well thought out, and articulated clearly, with sound purposes that focus on worthy outcomes. But they were set aside, no doubt as a result of urgent demands that may have been more obvious and intrusive, but less important.
For 2017, I invite you to join me in going after inspiration with a club. That club– a metaphor for determination– might take various forms on different days: devising a specific set of goals for de-cluttering or fitness, writing a letter or making a visit we’ve been putting off, scheduling an activity (such as exercise), or anything else that will break the cycle of sitting around waiting to be rescued from our sadness or lethargy.
We can’t wait for inspiration. But that doesn’t mean it’s not out there, waiting for us to find it.