For some people, the pandemic has been a lesson in dealing with isolation. For others, it’s offered valuable alone time for reflection. For me, the silver lining has been that even after more than six decades on this planet, I’m still learning what’s important to me and what inspires me.
In looking back on my life as a writer and teacher, I’ve reflected on what has driven or inspired me. During the past six months, I’ve wondered – even as a writer who has spent considerable time alone – if the pandemic has caused me to lose focus.
In addition to the cognitive changes associated with aging, not having the freedom to meet a friend for a cup of coffee or a glass of wine seems to have affected me at a deeper level than I would have thought. Not only do I miss in-person connections, but I also miss one of my favorite pastimes: people-watching.
The great Russian and French writers rarely became inspired by just sitting at their desks in their writing studios. They lived their lives, whether that meant sitting at outdoor cafés or visiting friends and family.
Many contemporary writers have side passions that inspire them, such as gardening, traveling, reading, painting, or playing music. These activities keep their fires burning.
During the course of our lifetimes, many of us have had muses, or individuals who inspired us. For me, they’ve been spirits, family members, friends, and lovers. Although they seem to come and go in adulthood, I believe that childhood muses (for me, my grandparents) stay with us our entire lives.
When I was growing up, I was an only child with busy working parents, so my grandparents, who lived with us, were a deep source of inspiration for me.
I felt fortunate that each year my grandfather took me to either Miami or Paris. On our Parisian getaways, we sat for hours in cafés watching the eccentric passersby. This daily ritual sparked my interest in writing.
In addition to travel, education and learning were also sources of inspiration for me. When I was 11, my family traveled to Europe and Israel.
At 18, I was sent to an International Teen Summer Camp in Switzerland that has served as a lifelong source of inspiration and reflection for me. I’ve never forgotten all of the fascinating people I met there.
Recently, my mother turned 90, and she says that she never thought she’d live this long. Unfortunately, she’s lost her sense of inspiration, which for her entire life centered around horseback riding and flirting with men.
She’s now in a senior-citizen facility and has little inspiration to live, and the pandemic has magnified these feelings. As such, I’ve learned the importance of having a passion to carry into old age.
For me, it’s writing, needlepoint, hiking, and being with my kids and grandchildren. And each day I’m grateful for the first journal my mom gave me when I was 10, which set the foundation for my life as a writer.
It’s true that we age like we live, and if we’ve always been busy and inspired, chances are, health permitting, this will continue as we grow older. What’s important to remember is that it’s never too late to formulate new goals and learn new skills to accommodate each passage of life.
During any stage of life, good conversations can be inspiring, informative, and nourishing. However, now, during these unprecedented times, the importance of human connection has taken on a new significance – and interacting with family and friends in meaningful ways has become more vital than ever before.
This is why I’ve recently created Conversation Cards for Meaningful Storytelling, which can be used in video chats and social-distancing walks. They help us share our stories with others person as a way to expand our universe.
Here are some ways you can feel more inspired:
Have you suffered loss of inspiration to live, write, exercise, etc.? What have you tried to get your muse to come back? Have any activities worked to that end? If you have any suggestions, please share them below. Let’s have a conversation!