Have you ever had that experience of feeling uninspired?
I have. Just yesterday. And today. And the past week or so. A lack of inspiration rarely looks like lethargy and laziness for me — although it can certainly occur and be experienced that way for a lot of people. For me, it looks like a lot of playing video games, watching TV, and avoiding whatever I feel piling up.
My e-mail sits neglected, as do projects I’m working on. I end up on calls with my coach without much to talk about, or talking about something I’ve tried to “magic up” to get coached on. Like “This’ll be a thing that’s valid to talk about”, in the same way that the business degree I flunked out of would be a “good degree to have”. Yah, it’s a fine conversation, but it’s not really getting to the heart of the matter. It’s picking something to get supported with because I’m supposed to have something to get supported with.
Given that my purpose on this planet is inspiration, you’d think it would be something that would come easily. But that’s not really how our purpose works. I think that’s why we get so caught up in our heads around that question, spending years of consternation, trying to think our way to an experience that can only come from our hearts — never our brains.
Our purpose is as much a function of what we long to see and bring into this world, as it is to be with the absence of it. The people on this planet that are the most inspired are also the ones most familiar with apathy — a lack of inspiration. Those whose purpose speaks to love for all, are often present to the lack of love that shows up on a daily basis (both in their own lives and in the world at large).
When I’m present with my own lack of inspiration, I tend to get caught in one of two places: either I seek the experience of inspiration from external sources (eating delicious food, drinking good booze, back in the day, marijuana, etc.), or I double-down on what I’m doing over top of the feeling of being inspired (play even more video games, paint miniatures into the late hours of the night, etc.)
None of these strategies really work — they’re geared towards overcoming and escaping the feeling of apathy that goes with a lack of inspiration. And, they’re attempting to resolve an internal problem with an external solution.
One of the solutions I see people often adopt in situations like this is to simply wait. If we wait long enough, everything will pass. This is called a regression towards the mean. If you’re feeling an acute sense of pain, regardless of what you do for it, over time, that pain will tend to return to your base level of pain (this is one of the reasons people subjectively experience placebos as effective treatment).
Given enough time, this too shall pass. If you don’t like the rain, one solution is to simply stay inside and wait it out. Assuming you don’t live in Vancouver, eventually the weather will change.
Waiting is fine.
The only trouble is that this approach puts what I (and possibly you) am committed to creating at the effect of how I am currently feeling. Our purpose and the experience and expression of it ends up being something externally derived and created, rather than internally generated.
We don’t usually like this shift from external to internal. Being internally generated means that I’m responsible for my own experience, and when I’m apathetic, the last thing I want to do is generate. Fuck that. I’ll just play another hour of NetHack and maybe then inspiration will show up and tap me on the shoulder.
And so what do I do?
I bring this conversation to my coach. I show up to the extent I’m willing to. And I bring compassion to myself for my unwillingness, in this moment, to create something different. And I know that once I’m sick of hanging out here, I can choose something different.
When I’m willing, I’ll choose to start generating inspiration, rather than waiting for it.
In the meantime, I bring love and compassion to myself — allowing permission for all of who I am.
What do you think your purpose might be? And if you’re not sure about the answer to that question, what is the absence you are most present to in your life?