We're all looking for inspiration - from Rumi quotes, to good deeds witnessed, to the perseverance and triumph of the human spirit, to a simple comforting hand or word. It's important, as we link inspiration to imagination, creativity, manifestation and hope.
All of us have been inspired, some of the best and most humble among us have been inspirations to others. Whether we are close to someone, or simply their unknown admirer, we love to be inspired to reach for new things, grow to new heights, stretch to new limits.
"Let my inspiration flow in token rhyme, suggesting rhythm,
That will not forsake you, till my tale is told and done.
While the firelight's aglow, strange shadows from the flames will grow,
Till things we've never seen will seem familiar.
We're going to start with Spirit or spirit, uppercase or lowercase, whatever makes you comfortable. A side note of interest - most sacred languages have a distinct word for 'life force' that differs from 'spirit'; e.g. animus vs. spiritus and soma vs. pneuma. And, the words in both Greek and Hebrew for spirit are the same for wind, or air in movement.
Let's check the source material, get back to basics, before a lot of mouths go on these words:
Spirit (n.) "animating or vital principle in man and animals," from Old French espirit, derived from the Latin spiritus "soul, courage, vigor, breath." Spiritus is directly related to spirare "to breathe," which stems from Proto Indo-European *(s)peis- "to blow".
For the most part, we find the majority of the original usage in English mainly coming from passages in the Vulgate, where the Latin word spiritus translates from the Greek pneuma and Hebrew ruah.
The later distinction between "soul" and "spirit" (as the "seat of emotions") became current in much later Christian terminology (for instance, again using the Greek psykhe vs. pneuma, or the Latin anima vs. spiritus). Spiritus, in classical Latin simply meaning "breath," replaces animus in the sense "spirit" and then only later starts to take on the supernatural connotations it may imply today.
Aspire (v.) "to strive for," from Old French aspirer "aspire to; inspire; breathe, breathe on." Again, directly from the Latin aspirare "to breathe upon, to breathe," but also taking on the later meanings "to be favorable to, assist; to climb up to, to endeavor to obtain, to reach to, to seek to reach; infuse." The word is constructed from ad- "to" + spirare "to breathe". The notion is of "panting with desire," or "giving the climb your all," "rising like smoke or incense vapors" even.
Inspiration (n.) "immediate influence of God or a god," especially that under which the holy books were written! Hmm, that's a good one. Divine inspiration, being breathed into by the creative force.
Inspiration comes from the Old French inspiracion "inhaling, breathing in; inspiration." We can now recognize this from the Latin and Late Latin form inspirationem (or if you prefer the nominative - inspiratio). This is the noun of action, from the Latin stem inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into." The word is constructed from in- "in" + spirare "to breathe".
From inflame, as in to blow on the fire, to create dynamic tapas and alchemical change, to the literal sense of the "act of inhaling," it wasn't until the late 1800s that the meaning "one who inspires others" was developed.
"Inspiration, move me brightly. light the song with sense and color;
Hold away despair. More than this I will not ask,
Faced with mysteries dark and vast, statements just seem vain at last.
Some rise, some fall, some climb..."
There is something very simple about it, the inhale as inspiration, the exhale as expiration; there's also something deeper than the simple respiratory exchange. We take in life force, the animating spirit within us, that rider of the horse, the observer of the self, the one who can ask who is asking this question while listening to it being asked - that is spirit.
But, then, there is Spirit: whether that be divinely ordained, as simple as all living beings amounting to godhead, as animating as the forces that bind the atoms or as pervasive and ineffable as the universe, we are moved and can move others.
And, yes, sometimes it is a climb. Sometimes we have to fan the flames. Sometimes we need a kick-start, a community, a place that reminds us to aspire. That inspires us to reach and stretch and grow, and not simply in the Pursuit of Happiness, but rather in the Creation of Happiness.
Remember, in a pursuit, often something eludes the other; in a creation, both forces serve the whole. So, make it your aspiration to find and give inspiration. Sometimes that is as simple as a helping hand, a kind word, an extra good deed to a stranger or a nice moment reflecting on something you've witnessed.
Let me leave you with one more word - one I suggest that we 're-appropriate' and take back, out of the pejorative and into the affirmative and inspiring. I suggest we take back this word:
conspire (v.) comes from the Old French conspirer which comes from the Latin conspirare "to agree, unite," but more literally simply translates as "to breathe together." The word is constructed from com- "together" + spirare "to breathe".
This very might have been in regards to musical performances, singing or instruments, where perhaps the notion draws from the alternate definition "to blow together," i.e., "to sound in unison." Seems like the notion of "to plot together" comes along much later.
What if we take back conspiracy and elect to be co-conspirators of inspiration! I'm in, sounds like a good time, or a great yoga class!
Give thanks and praise - this series is almost coming to close, I hope you've been at least entertained, maybe a little enlightened, and hopefully taken something or things from what I've written.
Check back for the final installment of the series, Step 12 to Happiness - The Heart Knows Better!