Waking up to the sound of birds chirping with sunlight streaming in the windows, I notice I’m gently invited to a new day of being alive. My body naturally knows its morning. I’m not certain when I mostly refrained from using an alarm clock. When I moved to the mountains, I brought a clock radio with large bright red numbers on the face. Preferring complete darkness, cold, and quiet, I eventually donated the clock radio. If I need an alarm, I use my phone, which remains outside the bedroom. I’ve discovered I prefer to hear live birds.
The alarm clock represents an influence, something made by humans that can impact behavior. The mechanical object replaces the influencer of another human being, who presumably has an agenda and an expectation that you get your body out of bed. Sometimes the human “alarm clock” may or may not be reliable, trustworthy, compassionate or kind. The mechanical object probably became a more reliable substitute for the human version, especially if you live alone. In either case, influence rather than inspiration entered the world of waking up.
I have been reflecting deeply for years about being inspired rather than being influenced. Influence remains a human invention designed by and for other humans. Usually influence involves agendas, expectations, power, and control. There seems to be a great deal of attachment to outcomes, which may be positive, negative, or simply unintended. One definition for influence was this one: “the capacity or power to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behaviors, opinions of others.”
In this definition, there’s no value infusion. Influence might look like talking heads doing mental gymnastics with vision, courage, vulnerability, fears, unresolved or unmet needs, insecurities, judgments, demands, and persistent internal “shoulds “and “should nots.” Influence can come from fear, love, or a confusing mixture of the two. There’s consistently an agenda with all these pathways. Thus, an influencer could be one who has a life-giving, a harmful, or a confusing agenda. Throughout our human history we’ve experienced all types. Influence remains quite distinct from inspiration.
Inspiration lives in a much wider, broader, deeper, and expansive place than influence. Inspiration can come from inside human hearts. Inspiration feels grounded in emotion and often results in human creative expression, innovation, acts of compassion, beauty, and kindness. Some might say that inspiration comes from God, the Universe, or a quiet mind. Sometimes inspiration seems magical and other worldly. Inspiration can come from anywhere and everything.
Sources can include blooming brilliant red roses or a breath-taking sunset over the ocean. The feel of a pet curling up in your lap, a tender, loving kiss, the sound of babies laughing, music that makes your body want to dance and make love, the sight of a gorgeous painting of the mountains at dusk, a poem, a smile on the face of a beloved one can all ignite inspiration. Engaging the senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, sound, inner awareness of body sensations including gut instincts, goosebumps, or heart whisperings, an experience of your whole body in relationship to everything around you can allow you to access this expanded world. “A sudden, brilliant, creative, or timely idea” and “the excitement of the mind or emotions to a high level of feeling or activity” are two definitions that leapt off the thin paper page of a dictionary.
Being inspired rarely involves fear, anger, revenge, depression, loneliness, grief, or some hidden agenda. Inspiration may be informed by these darker places and often is for human beings as we yearn to be whole, hilarious, and at peace. Being inspired in heart, mind, and body feels really good. There’s an emancipation of the soul, a life being awakened from the inside to the outside and untethered. It feels playful, joyful, awake- a tender underbelly of what really enlivens your being. Inspiration allows the “soft animal of your body to love what it loves.” (Mary Oliver)
The sun shines without ever saying to the earth, trees, plants, wildlife and humans, “You owe me.” A swan will not ever lecture you about how to sit up straight, laugh like a “lady,” or refrain from talking with your mouth full of food. Roses won’t ever use flattery to cause you to be courageous or charm you to trust them or convince you to just “be genuine.”. Your dog or cat is unlikely to hold a meeting about how you can improve your listening or speaking skills. The wild geese goslings won’t demand that you behave just like them or expect you to water the grass they eat. Because you may be in awe of these adorable babies you might be moved to care for this shared world of food, water, and light.
My wish for you would be to wake up vibrantly alive with joy wrapped around the hurts of your unique self; willingly open to your hearts’ ability to heal, to love passionately, generously; mindfully expressive from a soulful, life-giving place. May you deeply inhale to receive the breath of life from all the places that source creative ideas. May these ideas consistently uplift your life and the lives of others, spark the inner being of knowing the truth of how beautiful and brave you really are, how you can transform and live free in love, light, wonder, awe, and grace. Live inspired.