Inspiration Doesn’t Find You
Depression can be crippling, sometimes to the point where you start to question the point of life. It robs you of your happiness, your purpose, and your creativity. You have to find a way out of it and back to a life of joy-filled purpose, but how? I had to answer this same question.
A year ago, I was in a dark, dank cellar of self-pity. I had just undergone a major life event that left me alone and confused. I must admit that there was a certain comfort in that misery. The stress of navigating divorce left me tired in every sense. True to my instincts, I turned to the craft of writing to attempt to drain the poison from my soul and find perspective. A funny thing happened: nothing.
For the first time in my life, I had no words. I tried to extort them from my soul by force, not realizing that there simply weren’t any to extract. I thought that the pain of my life would flow from my fingertips and onto the computer screen like molten lava from an angry volcano. This seems silly now in hindsight, but I thought that locking myself away to write would free me from the loneliness in my soul. It simply didn’t work. I reached a place of discouragement before too long, and I decided to quit. I knew that life would go on, but my time as a writer was over. Once I stopped writing, I started living again.
God sent the perfect person to me at the perfect time to teach me a perfect lesson about life. I learned that life is not merely a state of existing, performing functions, and achieving results. Rather, it is a beautiful process of discovery — of experiences that stretch the boundaries of who we are, how we think, and what we have to say. Sitting in my living room, marinating in my own misery, and praying through my self-imposed void of existence yielded no results; it was time to try something new.
This is where little Jeannine Smith came in. We knew each other many, many moons ago when we were both 14 years old, but life took us in different directions. Never in our wildest imaginations did we even consider that our paths would cross again three decades later. God proved through her that even when He makes us wait nearly 30 years, He is always right on time.
She rushed into my empty existence like a cool, refreshing breeze and brought something into my life that had never been there before: a hunger to explore the world around me. Suddenly, I found myself trying foods I had never heard of. We explored 300-year-old buildings, found exquisite treasures in thrift stores (ask me about our Drip-o-lator from 1935 sometime), attended a NASCAR event, and discovered a mostly-shared appreciation for different kinds of music. We both discovered we are beach people. I wear artistic overalls now. I discovered I’m a dog-lover.
To be clear, none of these new experiences changed who I am fundamentally. Rather, they stripped layers of who I had been, who I thought I was, and who I was trying to be back to reveal the core of my true self. I discovered through this process that I wasn’t suffering from writer’s block. No, I was suffering from something much worse: life block. The key to rediscovering my creativity lay in discovering for the first time how to actually live. Once I learned how to live, the words were waiting for me.
Inspiration will not come looking for you. Your true self will not just magically pop up one day and say, “Howdy!” You owe it to yourself to live, and do so in a way that brings true joy to your life. This does not guarantee that you will suddenly prosper and conquer the world, but I promise that you will find something more valuable than money or fame. Get off your couch, put on some paint-splattered overalls, and go find the one thing you cannot live without: YOU.
Burlington County, N.J.