Issue #207 / October 2022
I feel so uninspired. Inspiration. Can I have some of yours?
GLENDA, LISBON, PORTUGAL
What kind of pen do you use to write lyrics with?
ALLAN, BOSTON, USA
I lack faith in something greater. Be it God or the universe. At the same time I lack faith in myself. I just lack faith and I would really like the comfort that faith brings. How can I bring it to my life?
ZINA, KEA, GREECE
Dear Glenda, Allan and Zina,
Franz Kafka said this, “You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Sadly, I have not found this to be true.
In my experience, inspiration is not something that finds you, or offers itself to you, nor for that matter is faith. Inspiration and faith are similar in so far as they both ask something of us. They each require real and constant practical application. For me, inspiration comes only when I practice certain things regularly and rigorously. I must commit fully to the task in hand, sit down each day, pick up my pencil (actually it is a medium black or blue Bic Biro) and get to work. It is not exactly toiling down the coal mines, but it is labour enough, and I undertake it through the good times and the bad, through the dry periods and the periods of abundance, and I keep on going regardless of my successes or failures. Inspiration comes because I put in the work.
Faith is found in a similar way. Faith is not something that just magically materialises, rather it first calls to us with its demands, and sometimes these demands are significant. Faith in the universe, for example, requires our active participation. The world awakens to us as we set about the task of its rehabilitation. Faith is not passive but fiercely active, so we need to invest something of ourselves in the world in order to appreciate its value. The more we put into the world, the more value it appears to have.
So it is with God. To have faith in God, if this is what you want, requires an active involvement in the mechanics of belief. We set out on a journey, and that journey can be long and very hard, for the light is often buried deep, emerging from the darkness. We labour to improve our relationship with God, whoever or whatever that may be.
Zina, it is through our practised and committed application to these things that we find faith in something we never felt was possible. We commend ourselves to God and the world as radical beings of value. We stand before the world, in all its majesty and torment, and say, “we mean something” – we, who contribute in some way toward the betterment of the world; we, who have skin in the game; we, who improve matters; we, who care. We find, to our utter astonishment, that we have faith in ourselves.