Inspiration does not come like a bolt, nor is it kinetic, energetic striving, but it comes into us slowly and quietly and all the time, though we must regularly and every day give it a little chance to start flowing, prime it with a little solitude and idleness.
-Brenda Ueland, journalist, editor, and writer (24 Oct 1891-1985)
Part of my word-geek devotion is a daily reading of Anu Garg’s “A.Word.A.Day” website. It always includes a pithy quotation, and this one grabbed my attention. I’ve been struggling against the compulsion to check my cyber-world communications every time I have an idle moment.
I asked my students how much time elapses between waking up and checking their phones. An hour. Two seconds. They laughed.
What is the draw? That external feedback, I think, fuels our sense of relevance. In idle moments, I use social media to give me direction, to find something to respond to, and it never fails to provide. As a source of inspiration, however, it’s like eating potato chips – an easy distraction, but empty of substance.
I have witnessed the ravages of too much solitude and idleness. Loneliness can be a destroyer. But mightn’t the disappearance of solitude be just as damaging? Is our perpetual connectedness depriving us of the empty spaces that we need to create, innovate, or simply recognize that we are worthwhile beings, all alone?
Can we offer our thinking minds a little chance to start flowing of their own accord?
My 60th year in 60,000 words
Day 58: 245 words, TOTAL = 9175; 50,825 remaining
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.