I’ve been having a running discussion with one of my readers recently about the source of inspiration. The question is whether a certain topic that I have covered and people involved in that story are worthy of my attention.

From a practical, cognitive-based perspective, I understand the perspective and even appreciate it at some level. It always feels nice to have someone state that you are a better, more worthy person that someone or something else.

But when I step back from the ego and the conscious mind and bring the unconscious into the discussion, another viewpoint seems important to me.

I have been reading a book this week by a Jungian analyst named James Hollis entitled “Living Between Worlds.” Something Hollis wrote strikes me as very profound. He said that instead of looking back on our life’s stories, seeing events and things that happen to us, and finding new ways to conquer that past, perhaps we need to reshape these stories in a way that helps us find wisdom and a sense of purpose in life.

He wrote:

This shift of our center of gravity begins by asking less what happened to me than another question: What wants to enter the world through me? That we might be the bearers of new life into this world is the only antidote to the old world and its “stories.”

In a way, it’s the Gandolf approach to life — it is not up to us to decide the times we live in, rather what to make of the time we have.

I was thinking of my Sunday essay about my father in this frame. It was difficult for me to publish that piece, especially on Father’s Day. I can appreciate the perspective that it’s not the day to write such things and that perhaps I should have focused on the good moments.

By breaking through that opposition, both perceived and stated, I ended up writing something that surprised me in retrospect. I had not recognized until re-reading it just how much of my life, no matter how authentically I’ve wished to lead it, was nothing more than a knee jerk reaction to the way my father lived his.

By stating it in these stark terms and basically declaring victory over my dad, I now see what a hollow victory that is. I am not living my life so much as being a living critique of someone else’s.

So, back to the question of inspiration, I am glad that I fought through these voices, both real and perceived, telling me not to go there, not to state things that might upset others, not to be inspired by people and events that had unpleasant elements. By silencing those voices and writing with honesty, I discovered a valuable insight about myself that not even therapy has surfaced.

Given the choice of a life with only the proper inspirations, which may end up with no inspirations at all, and one where I do not prejudge my drives and accept the consequences of where they take me, I must accept the value of inspiration and quell the drive to placate. I’ll let the world decide what it wishes to be unleashed through me.

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