Inspiration; it’s the thing that drives us forward as humans, but just how important is it?
When talking about inspiration, or more specifically “finding your muse”, we generally think about “art”. Indeed, the concept of finding sudden inspiration in something and accomplishing something great as a result is stereotypically associated with art. But is inspiration really exclusive to the right hemisphere of the brain? Not so, I would say. Perhaps the “analog” of this for the left hemisphere would be “thinking outside the box”. Ah, but isn’t that simply approaching a problem at a different angle? That’s true, but let’s think about this in greater detail.
What are the circumstances surrounding inspiration from an art point of view? Typically, the artist is stuck in a slump; he/she just can’t seem to accomplish anything. And then, suddenly, the artist experiences something that seems to make something “click”. What if the artist were simply stuck viewing his/her subject from one angle? It’s not too far-fetched, then, to argue that the muse simply directs the attention of the artist to some “new” previously unseen quality, thus motivating him/her to finally get moving again. So then isn’t the muse something absolutely crucial to all individuals hoping to accomplish anything?
I would like to argue that this is not the case. Generally speaking, people do what they want to do. Or rather, they should. If you don’t find some sort of enjoyment in what you’re currently involved in, then you may need to rethink the path you’ve chosen. But of course, that doesn’t mean that inspiration is completely irrelevant and useless. As humans, it’s in our nature to adapt. This is typically a good thing, but at times, it may have negative effects. I believe that getting stuck in a rut in the first place is a result of our ability to adapt.
Just as we always want what we don’t have, and throw it away once we finally have it, we also get bored of something that normally piques our interest. After all, if you do something enough times, it starts to get repetitive. In the case of art, you could even argue that an artist simply runs out of ideas, but given the nature of art, I’d say that just having ideas is part of the job; if you don’t like constantly having to think of original ideas, you may not be too well suited to be an artist. So what place does inspiration have in all this? As previously asserted, it brings something new to the metaphorical table.
If the problem is that a subject starts to seem dull, all you need to do is introduce some spice. But how do you recognize what exactly this “spice” is? With regards to the more “logical” side of us, the answer is simple. The framework with which you are approaching an issue is what’s dull. To fix the problem, you take a step back, take a deep breath, and dive into the pool from some other spot. In other words, to find inspiration, you simply need to stop doing what you’ve been doing and try something new. But what about the “artsy” side of the brain? How do you determine what inspiration is?
Unfortunately, I’m not a very “artsy” person so I don’t have many answers with regards to this. True, I was a musician for a very long time, but never once did I get “bored” of music. I guess the problem is that I love music so much I had no need to find a muse. And look where it got me; I’m now an engineer. Alright, I guess in my case I simply changed my interests, so the more fundamental problem is that when I find something I like, I stick with it. Is inspiration only necessary for the fickle, then? Well perhaps not, but there’s no harm in looking for it anyway.
It’s hard to bring inspiration into more “logical” matters, but you could argue that since becoming an engineer, I’ve had to turn to it more than when I was a musician. Heck, any time I run into a difficult problem, I have to find inspiration to solve it. And of course, you could argue that thinking outside the box isn’t true “inspiration”, but I’ll just ignore the semantic nitpicking. The way I see it, inspiration is unavoidable when it comes to the left side of things because often times there is a right and a wrong. When it comes to art, though, the only right and wrong is what the critics say, so things are a little more gray.
As such, while inspiration is more often associated with art than with “science”, it’s certainly “used” more often in the latter. In the end, if you think you need some inspiration, you should definitely go ahead and try to find your muse. If you find yourself needing inspiration a lot, though, you should probably stop doing what you’re doing. Either you’re just not cut out for it, or you’re unconsciously forcing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy. You could say, then, that in addition to help people out in their area of focus, inspiration has the more important function of letting us know when to move on.