The Wright Way

The Wright Way

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Wind Beneath The Wings

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.
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 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?


Sophia Husbands said...

Interesting comment on inspiration Peter. I find it hits me at different times. I could be having a conversation and there will be a word or theme that I hook on; perhaps due to resonating with one of my layers. It's Interesting how we can harness and perfect a new skill. This may be something that was sparked and awakened skill that we didn't know we had.

Gouroux said...

Thanks for your comments and good to hear from you Sophia!

In terms of inspiration I think we are "programmed to receive" - but unlike the night-man in Hotel California, we regularly check out long before we ever get the message. Yet when we do receive, then we need to act!

Tanya Mann Rennick said...

Wonderful account of inspiration Peter. I really enjoyed reading it, for all sorts of obvious reasons and for some less so. I also very much enjoyed the piece about your mother; Vermeer has been a constant theme throughout my life, so this part resonated beautifully. I am so glad she was able to enjoy painting again in her later years. xx

Peter Wright said...

Thank you for your kind words Tanya, which caught me unawares, and made me stop and think! I'm so glad the article "rang some bells" for you, particularly with Vermeer. The five copies my Mum did are in the room where I write - so I see them every day. I am most fortunate for that. xx