Ghosts of Columbus

Sometimes people ask the oddest questions. For example: “Do you draw and paint every day, or only when you are inspired?” What, I wonder, is the assumption underlying the question? That artists laze around, waiting for Inspiration to arrive like a package in the mail from Amazon? My answer is: “I work in the studio five or six days a week. I draw nearly every day and paint as often as possible. If Inspiration happens to visit, I consider myself fortunate.”

But this answer avoids a more interesting implication of the question. What in the world is Inspiration, anyway? I’d like an answer, but I don’t have one; Inspiration is a mystery. However, I have some thoughts about it, but first, let’s have a story.

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This Morning Long Ago

Doctor DeGroot was puzzled. “Most of my patients are professionals: accountants, engineers, attorneys, business executives. One’s a mathematician. Something they all seem to share in common–other than having cancer, I mean–is that they think there must be a solution to their situation. I’m their doctor, so they expect me to provide it.”

“Why do you think that is?”

“I’m not sure, but I think a lot has to do with their professions. They’re solution-oriented people. They get paid to provide answers. Cancer is a problem. So there must be a solution. They want clear-cut answers. They don’t like ambiguity. But you, in contrast, seem to be comfortable with it. Why is that?”

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World of Wonders

If you are a lucky child, the world is full of magic. Or, better said, the world is magic. By lucky, I mean that you are loved and cared for. You’re safe. Except for the natural hazards of childhood, like the thugs and bullies you encounter in your neighborhood and at school (and whom you will have to deal with throughout the rest of your life), you are not afraid of the world. You have not known hunger, or had to flee from war. If you are fortunate, you don’t have to endure being torn away from your parents at the southern border of a police state and thrown into a detention camp. You’re a lucky child, even when you don’t get along with your parents, or with your brothers and sisters. You have a home at least, and they are part of it, like it or not.

By magic, I mean that even if you are a lucky child, it’s necessary, now and then, to escape from Life, to enter into the lives of strangers. Fairy tales allow you to do this. So do movies.

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