Inspiration 2/10/23

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

My friend gave me the most remarkable gift this past Christmas.  She’s the most amazing amateur photographer I know, and in the Black Hills, she snapped a photo of a lone buffalo walking in the sleet.  It has to be one of the most powerful photographs I’ve ever seen, symbolic of the journey alone, of past glories lost, and of the struggles of the Native people all at the same time.  She had it printed on steel and gave it to me as a gift.

I should mention that my house is very old, and as such the walls are actual plaster, rather than plaster board.  This means that you cannot simply drive a nail into a wall to hang a photo.  The procedure involves drilling a hole through the plaster, hammering in a brace and driving a screw through the brace.  But what’s more, I had a hard time figuring out where to put the photo.  In my office upstairs, it could act as inspiration when I’m here and wanting to get something done.  But as beautiful as it is, it should be downstairs where guests can admire it.  Ultimately, I decided that I need inspiration, and besides, in the time I’ve lived here, I’ve only really had one visitor. 

Inspiration matters, especially when you struggle with depression.  I’ve been writing a blog post every day for three years now, and sometimes (like now) I’m so on top of it that I’ve several days ahead, but you have no idea how often I sit here in front of my computer, uninspired, and with no motivation to write at all even if I have a topic in mind (which sometimes I do not).  These hours feel extremely lonely, as I’m sure you have felt when you have to do some work and you feel as if you are the only person in the world with a task to complete.  I know that there are many people who believe in me, and that is sometimes all that keeps me going.  Now I have this beautiful lonely photo to gaze at to remind me to remain strong even when I feel all alone in the storm.  It reminds me of my friend and her unwavering devotion and belief in me even when I don’t deserve it.  It reminds me that while I might be alone in body, I’m never alone in spirit.

I suppose that inspiration can come from a variety of sources, each with strength that varies from one person to another.  My inspiration for my research comes from my desire to understand.  My hydrogen bonding research is going at full pace right now because of the computer that I constructed specifically for research purposes, and that computer is in itself inspiration for me to continue as I know the power and cost of the monster.  Patty Boyd inspired George Harrison’s songs “I Need You, “If I Needed Someone”, and “For You Blue” as well as Eric Clapton’s “Layla”, “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Wonderful Tonight”.  I wish I could have met her (she is still alive but what are the odds?).  Can you imagine what it must do to one’s ego to have inspired so many songs from two such powerhouse rock stars? 

Actually, Layla was Eric Clapton’s song specifically to George Harrison as he tried explaining to him that he was sleeping with his girlfriend, wanted to keep her but also wanted to still maintain his friendship with George.  If you’ve never carefully listened to the lyrics, it’s worth the time.

My friend described the day that she took this buffalo photo.  It was just miserable, cold, wet, and icy when she saw this beautiful but lonely buffalo just walking along, head hung low, just not letting anything stop him or get in his way.  He wasn’t moving quickly, but was walking along steadily, minding his own business.  His mere presence was the inspiration for her to snap this photograph, a photo that I believe should be the centerpiece of her art. 

Sometimes we all need inspiration, but it’s not always forthcoming.  It’s worth reflecting on those things that inspire us.  Sometimes it’s rewards.  Sometimes I even promise myself some kind of reward, maybe a special meal or toy if I complete “just this one thing”.  Work can be its own reward as well.  Having recently cleared the garbage out of my house that had accumulated during my previous depression, I find that looking at an open floor is itself a reward and inspiration to keep going.  I had a surprising little emotional boost in my recycling yesterday.  My recycling comes every two weeks, and throughout the holiday season, I made too many online purchases, the boxes of which were part of the garbage pile that built up in my house.  Yesterday, they collected another load of flattened boxes, but it’s not the end.  This computer that I built had its own recycling.  I collapsed most of the boxes and put them all in the one big box that the tower was in and dragged the entire box of boxes out to my shed.  After my recycle bin was empty, I thought that I would need to unload the smaller boxes, and collapse the big box, and even then I wasn’t sure that they would all fit in the bin.  Much to my surprise, the big box fit, like a glove, in the recycle bin.  It was just a great little surprise that I didn’t have to do any more work, and in two weeks, when they next collect my recycling, the job will officially be over.  Now I want to find more jobs that I’ve been putting off. 

I’ve been inspired.


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