By Chris Klonoski

When my daughter moved across the country to go to college we tried to find ways to stay close. While texts and calls kept us up on the details of our lives, I wanted something that added actual flavor, that went beyond information exchange.  

I was reading – or listening to a podcast (I don’t remember the source) when glimmers were mentioned. A glimmer is an unexpected discovery that sparks a feeling of joy, or warmth. It is beautiful or whimsical and usually small – a heart stone embedded in the canal dirt, a ceramic pig in a box in the alley, wild flowers blooming after the rain.  

We text each other a photo of the thing that caught our eye and made us smile, and the word “glimmer”. That’s it. No description necessary (though the pig did prompt a little more conversation). With those exchanges we catch a moment, and some meaning. They are intimate glimpses into the beauty and delight of a normal day. They provide comfort and happiness and inspire us to keep a weather eye open – not for doom or danger – but for unexpected beauty. The kind of beauty that is fleeting, found in the dirt, the cracks or spilling over a fence. Accidental beauty.

This month Root + River is thinking about Inspiration. As a collection of word nerds, we often are looking up definitions of words we know backwards and forwards, which is how I learned that the second meaning of inspiration is the drawing in of breath, inhalation. What a perfect accompaniment for the first definition – being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially something creative. 

As always, we must first pause, and breathe. Once centered, we can begin.

Why do you need inspiration? Searching for inspiration involves understanding why you seek a remedy in the first place. Are you burned out? Or are you looking to take something to its next level? Understanding the need for inspiration will help set your path. Going to a museum to elevate your game may not be the right decision when what you really need is a nap. 

Seeking Input. Inspiration can be found everywhere – and often in places where you least expect it. But first, take the easy route and consider the tried and true: books, journaling, museums, old photos, get out into nature or just take a walk in a new place. Meditation, reading, conversation. And yes, technology. When you can’t leave your desk but need a little boost, give a try. If viewing the world through a stranger’s pane doesn’t work, there is always Pinterest. 

Look Back. Sometimes remembering can unleash a flood of inspiration. Examining your origin story and recalling why you made a decision can hit the refresh button on a stale situation. My daughter is getting married so we pulled out my wedding album and photos from our rehearsal dinner. Those photos sparked memories and tender feelings and laughter and a craving for more remembering. 

Revisiting and recalling can also be refreshing – who knew? I was reluctant to drag out the old albums (how will I ever get them back onto those dusty crowded shelves?) But I was wrong. They brought back how I felt at the Beginning – all those daydreams and longings. And, unexpectedly, they gifted me a feeling of pride – look how much was done, the people who were grown, the memories that were made. 

She does it better. Rivalry can be a wonderful thing. Competition can be an inspiration. A healthy rival – not an enemy – can influence you to do better, do more, be more. Sometimes it takes a little boost to the system to get juices flowing – especially if you’ve become complacent. In the 1980’s hit Say Anything Diane Court runs into Sheila, a girl at a party who thanks her for making her work harder and get into Cornell. 

From the Say Anything script:


I know we were ‘all too competitive’ this year, but I just want to say that if it hadn’t been for ‘Diane Court [?]’, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into Cornell, because you made me study twice as hard. So thanks.

Let go of what was. Inspiration is there for the taking, and it will likely not take the same form from one day to the next. Being open, and willing to follow inspiration where it leads, is the first step. Allow yourself – even encourage yourself – to try, to explore, to think and be in a different way. Be brave enough to release what used to work. And, be curious enough to invite inspiration in.

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