One meets someone, reads a book, sees or hears a work of art, -- and is suddenly illuminated. A window has been opened, life has registered itself upon our consciousness in a new and startling way.
What does this vibrancy mean? This exultation? What is its name, its voice, its form? Who are its parents? From where did it come? How did it get here? Will it leave upon some sudden whim, or by reason of some spiritual default? If it calls, how does one respond?
For man there is only one response: he must perceive its nature, and he must give it form.
He must open himself up to its transcendent radiance and luminosity, and remove all pettiness and inconstancy from his heart. He must be transparent to its light, and vibrant with its being.
He must call it forth and invoke its truth.
I wrote the above about a year ago, but set it aside because it seemed incomplete and a bit exotic and self-conscious in tone. I still think it incomplete but I'm not sure that it is the least bit exotic -- and I can easily now forgive the self-consciousness of its style.
It seems to be that we tend to be afraid of those exultant feelings which swarm upon us at times and which momentarily transform us from placid, accepting , neutral men and women into individuals of faith, passion, and fire.
What worries us is how to sustain this fire, for tomorrow always comes and with it the suspicion that we were fools to see and to want more than what we have always had or been. And so, when those feelings come upon us and we express them, we afterwards, all too often, deny their truths because our memory of them, or the random scrap of paper upon which some words were scribbled to express them, remind us too painfully of the discrepancy between what we felt and what our common sense informs us is the true reality.
But we are really only fools if we limit our emotional and spiritual growth to what we understand through logic and common sense. We can grow just as well through flashes of insight, leaps of faith, and by the conquest of fear.
One of the miracles of man is his ability to leap beyond his present position and to land exactly where he could be if only his more fearful and reluctant self could be persuaded to move beyond the safe and the familiar. A man or woman can be, at one and the same time, a leader and a follower, a shepherd and a sheep. One must help the other. A balance between the two must be struck and maintained. And then, as the more timid self sees that disaster does not inevitably result from risk, he may relax and move more swiftly to the desired goal.
In my case I could not believe that life could be as simple as it seemed during moments of inspiration, illumination, or love. I felt that my own experiences had proven that life was actually a subdued and wary affair.
But I have changed my mind about many things, and mainly about the nature of inspiration. It is much wiser than I thought, for it sees things whole and not in bits and pieces.
A lot of foolishness has been written about inspiration. It has been treated as though it came only to the very great poets, religious geniuses, and scientists. Actually that is far from the truth. Inspiration is in and all around us, and is part of our human heritage.
Inspiration is just as much the impulse which causes us to share and to reach out our hand to another as it is the impulse which creates an image for a poet, resolves a knotty problem for a scientist, or illuminates the truth for a saint. Whatever causes us to feel more whole, more complete, or more loving can be said to be inspired for it reflects a larger reality than the often confused and fearful one in which we live.
But we must want it. That is probably the only condition it imposes. And even that one is not hard and fast, for inspiration has been known to descend upon the most stubborn of individuals. The difference between the inspired poet and the hack lies often in the degree to which both are aware of larger rhythms and realities than those encountered during their daily routines.
Inspiration can often be a simple parting of the veil between a lesser and a greater level of one's self, and can consist of a sudden glimpse of what could be if one truly wanted it. That glimpse can then remain as a cherished memory, as a dream, or as a fantasy -- or it can become the cornerstone of a new life.
So -- as I said above -- I'm not at all certain that what I wrote a year ago is too exotic. Considering the wonderful year I have had, it strikes me now as simple statement of fact.