Monday, November 26, 2012

Finding Inspiration

I think it's time to admit that one of my new writing projects has been a return to poetry.  I wrote poetry in college -- and I even had a few poems published in small Midwestern literary magazines. My husband has been encouraging me to return to it for a long time, and this fall I've finally started writing creatively again.

It's partly borne out of a need for some private reflection.  Things have been difficult, and I've so much I want to express.  When I try to write prose about it, I simply cannot do it.  I cannot articulate the things that I'm thinking about -- I cannot really capture the emotions and the responses I've had to recent experiences in an essay.  But I've been able to do it in verse for some reason.  While most of what I've written will never see the light of day (hooray for drafting!), some of what I've written so far has some potential.

Writing creatively again also means that I've been seeking inspiration.  The fact that I've also got the house to myself -- and the control of the remote control and Netflix account -- means that I've been watching a large number of documentaries.  I began the semester watching travel documentaries and shows about archaeological digs.  In fact, I was enjoying those so much that I forgot my own hatred of being, well, outside that I almost began to regret going into English instead of archeology.  I discussed this with a colleague, and we decided that air-conditioning, microfilm, and old documents is really much better.  Fewer bugs and more indoor plumbing.

But recently, my viewing has turned to shows about world religions, particularly shows about the history of Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.  Okay, there was one about Dietrich Bonhoeffer and another about Thomas Merton, but mostly religions outside of my own tradition (I was raised in the Lutheran church. Might have watched one on Luther as well).

What this really hinges on, I think, is a need to think about our interior selves.  I'm not quite sure that this is the same sort of anguished soul-searching that I spent much of college doing -- though perhaps it actually is a significant amount of navel gazing.  But what I really think is different here is that I'm feeling a need of late to consider our human connections -- and particularly what it means to share that common values across all cultures and within all people, even those who I don't entirely understand.

And it has proven fruitful for my writing.  Certainly, it's inspiring to think of the renunciation of the world that goes along with the movement into a monastery.  But it's also inspiriting to me to think of those who dedicated themselves simply to the exploration of what it means to be fully human, and what it means to lead a life as authentically one's self.  I think that creative expression can do much the same for us, or at least I hope that I can find some of that in the work that I'm currently doing.

No comments: