The Wind Beneath The Wings

October 2, 2012 4 comments Uncategorised

I was conversing with an online friend recently, and he
mentioned some upcoming stage performances he was planning and how he was
looking for more inspiration. Now I don’t know whether the inspiration he was looking
for was specifically about content, or perhaps a mixture of content and context
– however, I did offer this observation to our conversation.

“There’s a fascinating and recurring theme that runs
through inspiration. And that is that it is all about what lies behind the How
To.
And sometimes the behind can be several layers behind
as well.”  

Now inspiration can – on the face of it – take many forms.
“You are a great inspiration to me.”
“The feats of our Olympians and Paralympians inspired me to do this.”
“This is such inspiring music.”
“The landscape was so inspiring it took my breath away.”

These are just a few examples that come to my mind, and I’m
sure you’ll have a number of your own as well.

Breathing
There’s a curious contradiction with my fourth example and
it’s all about what “inspire” means in the physical sense. Inspire and expire –
are all really about the breathing cycle; and yet here is a phrase that
seemingly describes the landscape as inspiring (causing an in-breath) whilst at
the same time saying it was SO inspiring that it took my breath away! Giving
and taking away, all at the same time. Now what’s really behind the
contradiction is, to my mind, the idea that inspiring is about creating a NEW
breath whilst taking away the OLD one.
Just as every new breath is enriching, invigorating, life-giving – and every
old one is stale, spent – then inspiration, like that, is about perceiving
things in a new way and doing things in a new way. The greater the inspiration,
the greater the changes wrought in us.

To return to the breathing parallel – another thing about
inspiration, and continued inspiration in particular, is about the quality of
air. If our house, or environment, is full of stale air, then the quality of
our inspiration will be lower. How many times have you gone out for a walk and,
by breathing fresher air, you have returned with a different perspective?
So – metaphorically – if our minds are closed, with the doors and windows shut
tight, then the quality of our inspiration will be continually diminishing. Some
of the most dull, unimaginative, uninspiring people I know – are the ones with
closed minds! Stands to reason that, over the years, breathing in their own
stale ideas, expired thoughts, burnt out notions, has led them into and
perpetuated that dull condition.
So for continued quality inspiration, make sure you throw open your windows and
doors and allow good clean and fresh air to flow through your life.

The
How To

Now, as someone who has spent a life loving music,
inspiration in the auditory mode – for me – is right up there with the visual.
Yes, I can feel inspired – but it is only through the resonances in my body
caused by particular sounds and particular sights. I can watch someone do
amazing things and will not be inspired until I get that self-same felt sense
of resonance. Then, there will have to have been something auditory or visual
to cause the resonance. People don’t inspire me per se, their actions do. The resonance of my appreciation of
people takes place in a different part of me – and I translate and describe it
in a totally different way.

When it comes to my being inspired by the things people do,
and wanting to put that inspiration into action – I will always go towards the How
To
. My question is always, “How do they do what they do that inspires
me?”

One of the things I discovered with modelling through NLP
is how many layers can lie behind a person’s actions. Now, I don’t intend here
to go into modelling as a process in any detail – however everything becomes
very interesting when we link modelling with inspiration.

In her latter years my Mum took up painting. It was
something she loved as a child and, eventually, she felt she had enough time on
her hands to devote to her being an artist. She was pretty good at it – and,
through going to classes, reading instructional books etc, she also got very
much better at the process. She was – in effect – modelling excellence. After a
number of years of painting in a variety of mediums (water colours, oils etc),
she happened to start doing copies of certain old masters. And it was here that
her modelling of excellence really accelerated.

She painted a copy of Vermeer’s Girl With a Pearl Earring. Through the process of copying this work
she gained a huge understanding of using colour in a particular way, applying
colour through brushwork etc in a particular way, so that instead of a bland
copy generated almost from ‘painting by numbers’ she’d got right inside Vermeer’s
head in terms of HOW he did what he did. In objective terms her copy was
exceptional – and she was inspired to do more copying work as a result. Her
copying by modelling the How To of certain artists enabled
her to achieve things in painting she had no idea she was either capable of, or
would ever be capable of.
I’m a big fan of all works by Turner. One year, as a birthday present, she
painted me a small copy of The Fighting Temeraire.
Originally she had doubted her ability to do it; she described his use of light
and colour as being so far beyond her capabilities that this was likely to be
the present I might never receive! But her quality of modelling of Vermeer was
the template that inspired her to get to grips with Turner. She applied all the
same rules of thumb, the similarity of approach, and I duly received my amazing
present.

As time went on she did a number of other copies of old
masters – mostly one-offs. However, she did four others of Vermeer’s work, which
are all exceptional. She had a particular love for, and affinity with, his
creative processes. She was on his ‘wavelength’, you might say, and at a very deep level.

A few years before she died she suffered a stroke, which
took away a lot of the fine motor skills in her painting hand. For nearly a
year she never even picked up a pencil, let alone a brush. Eventually she broke
that ‘barrier’ and was able to get back to what she really loved doing –
putting her various inspirations into action. I suggested to her that, given
her degraded fine motor skills, she might now take a more impressionistic
approach – where the necessity for intricate detail was less prevalent. The spur
was her getting a commission to do a copy of Monet’s La Promenade.
 

It was an amazing success. She loved and admired Monet’s
work and, with her faculties intact in terms of the skills of modelling, she duly
completed a superb copy much to the delight of the lady who had commissioned
the work.

Inspiration comes in many forms, and yet the common thread
is bound up in the song:-

The Wind Beneath My Wings”.
So, it can be “I can do X, because of you” – even though
you can’t do X – because you’ve released something in me I didn’t know I had.”
Or it can be like my Mum and Vermeer, or Monet, “I can do X, because I’ve got
right inside How you do what you do.”

Inspiration, as a process, is very, very hypnotic. There’s
a change of breath, a change of state, a change of mindset, a wind
of change
. There’s a disorientation that takes place, and things
contrive to make our perception of Now become different – by changing all that
is going on for us on the inside. We can soar to new heights, lifted aloft by
that wind of change.

When I’m inspired by music, or a sunset, I can feel that
wind of change. They make me want to express the resonance or the wind that I
feel, in a way I’ve perhaps not done before. Making that expression is about
sharing and passing on the inspiration.
When I see someone play an awesome shot I can feel that wind of change. The
thing is – I’m not inspired to go out and replicate the shot for myself in
whatever context. My expression is to bottle up that wind of change and to
share it and pass it on. And by getting inside the mind of the one whose
actions I have been inspired by, I can bring more meaning to the wind of change.

Understanding

Understanding Inspiration can help us to find it because we
have a better idea of what we’re looking for. It’s one of those intangibles
that we can’t put in a wheelbarrow – and because of its intangibility, the mere
act of looking for it might just be the way we’ll never see it – and
so know that it’s there.

My online friend never set out to inspire me to write this
article – but he did. I never started my conversation with him looking for
inspiration – but I found it. This may just be a very small inspirational
episode, but I’ve taken action as a result and expressed some of the
connections and resonances from my experience of the episode. The mere act of
your reading this means that I’ve shared the inspiration – however small. It
may possibly resonate with you at a ‘feeling’ level, make you examine your
perceptions about inspiration, maybe even inspire you.

It is all borne on the wind … which may just be passing
through the open doors and windows of your house.
It is all borne on the wind, and if you unfurl your wings …

Who Knows?