Wohoo! My dear little humans, we've survived another year! Our speck of a planet spun about the sun, and rotated about its axis 365 times while doing so. And all the while we've been busy, cooking and cleaning and doing a bunch of all-hands meetings and stuff like that. Here's what I did this year...
I was in the middle of filling out my two-year-old template for end of year reflections when I caught myself.
How could this be a candid reflection if all I'm doing is just listing my annual highlights, play-by-play like a Youtube Rewind, jotting down some resolutions and checking to see how well I checked off my goals from last year? At a time of year where I ought to be a bit more thoughtful, I was churning out a Spotify wrapped of my year like some GPT-3 skin (arguably a bit worse too).
As I get older, I find that my mind tends to become more set in its ways and I can fall into autopilot mode without even realizing it. Traditions like writing Christmas cards ("Wishing you and your family good health!") and listing out New Years resolutions start feeling vacuous in the comfort of routine.
I don't want to live that way - if I'm doing something, I want to experience it fully. I want to be present in the moment, and not just go through the motions. For the rest of this post, I'll be talking about a qualitative point that surprised me during my reflection. I'll jot down the measurable stats for funsies, in another post.
Thanks to hindsight, I can tell that my level of inspiration fluctuated wildly over the year. All you have to do is look at my writing - it's easy to see when I'm passionately creating or simply pushing content from the stack of ideas in my backlog.
It's been so mercurial because I haven't really been self-aware about it until very recently. And I think part of the reason why is because I had a mistaken idea about inspiration.
I used to think that inspiration is something you feel when an external stimulus compels you to improve yourself. That definition might've been too broad, because it also includes feelings of insecurity.
Such as when you meet someone younger than you, and learn that they are now 10x richer than you. Suddenly you feel an inadequacy that stings so much more because you can't use your youth as an excuse for not being as financially successful. "Wow I met a 13 year old who is running a $50M media empire, I'm really inspired to work harder!". That doesn't seem to be a intrinsic sort of inspiration - you are compelled to work harder so that you can patch a hole in your self-worth; the focus is entirely on your own ego.
My hunch is that perhaps inspiration stems from a wonder with the world outside ourselves. That excitement to create, to love like never before, to tread a fresh path, and trying to be fully immersed in the beauty of the present - maybe that's inspiration.
A litmus test to figure out whether you are actually inspired by someone, or just jealous, might be to ask yourself: "Am I looking up to this person because of their character or their accomplishments?"
Regardless, I'd like to work towards a platonic ideal of an inspired life, and adjust course as I figure out what that really means. But right now it points towards work on my agency to explore interactions with others, artistic expression, and meaningful work.
Some tricks I'll try:
I'd like to conclude by thanking you for reading this! I don't advertise my writing because I want this blog to be an authentic space free from expectations, where I can play with ways to make more meaningful and useful content. I also intentionally do not track engagement, so I really don't know how many of you are on here. You came here because you wanted to, and that means a lot to me. But it continues to amaze me whenever people reach out to say that they read something and found it eye-opening, I'm honored that something somewhere on this blog is of use to you!