Very few things inspire me. I don’t know if this good or bad.
However, I do know exactly what have inspired me to do the things I’ve pursued in my life. When I finished my Kenshusei training with Toyoda Sensei in 1998, he gave me a calligraphy. That calligraphy was what inspired me to learn Shodo– it still continues to inspire me to brush.
Some people may wait for inspiration to come or be given to, I actually try to seek it and get it.
Toyoda Sensei didn’t mail me the calligraphy out of good heart. He gave it to me because I completed the training.
To feel inspire, one or all of the following needs to happen:
- It needs to have a personal meaning. I may not have taken on the practice of Shodo if Sensei had not given me a calligraphy. I may have had purchased a calligraphy from him or some one else because I liked it. Most likely, it would’ve ended up hung on some wall and barely noticed. But, because he personally brushed it for me, and no one else, for something I accomplished, it has a deep personal meaning to me. That sentimental value is irreplaceable. That connection is what stimulates me.
- Find a community of like-minded people. Last weekend I went to Newport for the Black Ship Festival. There was going to be a Shodo demonstration by Michiko Imai, a Japanese calligrapher from Kaji Aso Studio in Boston, MA. I’ve never met her before, but I knew of her. I’ve seen her work online and I like it a lot. Its not often I get to meet another fellow calligrapher, nevertheless a master– someone who I consider better than me. Seeing her brush was truly inspiring. Why? Because I could feel her energy. Her focus, the way she wielded the brush, it was all very familiar. I could relate. One of the reason why I created a Facebook group for students who enroll in my online course is because I wanted to create something I didn’t have when I was learning Shodo: a community. Students are posting their work both good ones and not so good ones. They’re sharing their accomplishments and challenges and I know it keeps them inspired to continue practicing. I know I can inspire them as well by posting there. It works both ways as they also inspire me. Watching them learn inspires me to continue teaching Shodo.
- Create a challenge. Sometimes when some tells us we can’t do something, we feel inspire to prove them wrong! The challenge is like fuel that keeps the fire burning. I create all kinds of challenges for myself to stay motivated to continue creating Shodo. I want to grow the Shodo Studio substantially. I know that in order for that to happen the thing I need to do the most is create a lot of content to share. I have a goal of writing a newsletter article every week, create two YouTube videos a week, and brush every day. It’s a challenge, and one that I am very concerned about being able to sustain, since I have a family and a full time job. But having that challenge inspires me to keep going.
Do you have something you want to do but can’t find the inspiration to start? Try to find a personal connection, something that speaks to you. Find a community of like-minded people who share your enthusiasm, and create a challenge– a goal to aspire to.
I’m very grateful of everyone that have inspired me throughout my life. All I hope is that I can inspire others as well, that’s my main focus with sharing the benefits of Shodo, Aikido, and Zen practice.