Waters of Inspiration

Photo by Michael Block
Photo by Michael Block on Pexels

Inspiration flows in us like deep waters, like secret springs. Its waters flow freely, even when it takes effort to draw them, and they are always shaping us inwardly until we do. Listening to these waters we learn their secrets. Living in relationship with them we evolve with our creative work. And like water, our work gives us life.

So what can we learn from our own inspired waters? Consider the following:

Water quietly shapes channels over time: it always looks for the easiest way, and easiness is exactly what it teaches the channel. When its flow is slow, gentle, indulgent, the channel becomes elaborate and elegant. When fast, its channel becomes straight, deep, and deliberate.

What form does your own work take? What form has your practice given you?

But the movement of inspiration is not always visible on the surface. It is more often like the waters of a spring, which can neither be forced nor withheld: they must flow whether enjoyed or missed, but they must be drawn to be shared. In a hexagram titled “The Well”, the I Ching says:

The village may change, but not the well.
There is coming and going, drawing and welling,
but never any loss or gain for the spring.
I Ching, Hexagram 48

So the well is generous, yet with too much drawing it can run dry. It’s only by easiness that water deepens or makes beautiful. It’s because of its easiness that it is able to continue its work indefinitely. Water is playful, always seeking with soft determination, and its laughter is a music we miss if we have not heard it for long.

Have you been playful in your work lately? Has it come easily or with difficulty? You might try listening again to water’s song.

But easiness does not mean feeble. Water is relentless, even in its softness, and meticulous. It finds the edges, delights in them, and wears them down in its passing until it finds the way that will yield to it. Whether in ebb or flow its work is in everything it touches, its passion in its persistence. The Tao Te Ching says:

The highest good is like water:
it gives life to all things but does not strive…
In living, be close as water to the land.
In thought, go deep as water into the heart.
Tao Te Ching, Verse 8

So as you apply yourself to your creative work, remember that water shows us a patient process. As a shaper of beauty and a source of life it flows of kindness. Melodious of sound and clear of color, it remains childlike. Can you be a vessel for the waters of inspiration? You are your own master work.


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Overtaken

Photo by Pixabay
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels
At rest in the quiet,
falling into the dark,
fading into shadows ablur
with the mists of dream…
Faltering into the embrace of one’s undoing—
Breaking into the tired pieces of one’s person—
There is no better sleep
than that which pulls you waking,
than that which overtakes you,
like the setting of the sun.

Inspired Writers

Photo by Michael Anfang
Photo by Michael Anfang on Unsplash
The sun-bright air bites in a rush
with the swift, dry crackle of leaves set free…
All is color, all is life in Autumn’s flight:
one must get outside, or what is there to write!
The bold jay hops, dives, swoops,
on sun-splashed branches, limb to limb alighting…
Playful, free, she shines with all her glossy show:
we, like her in writing, write the soul of what we know.

Heart Reflecting the Sky

Photo by Johannes Plenio
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels
Gray her skies, so blustery her breath
whose earth awaits her living touch…
cold grief, passing slowly, pulls my heart along
My lover’s hills arise from mists;
her curves the waters follow down…
vacant heart, beating, empty, sings a lonely song
Restless sea past gentle peaks
that churns til misty weathers rise…
hidden passion stirs to no avail, my hope is gone
Come my love, for life runs thin…
come lift my heart again

Turbulence of Heart

Photo by Kourosh Qaffari
Photo by Kourosh Qaffari on Unsplash
I sit outside if only to be near you.
I sit and drink you in with eyes and breath.
I sit and stare into the sky if just to reach you,
to see you truly, yet my eyes reveal my heart…
My own heart soars if just you send your drops to touch me.
My own breath catches at your touch, at lift of gust.
My own eyes flare when all at once you come to meet me;
you come to meet my melting soul with all you are.
To be indoors when you’re about is suffocation.
To be laid bare by all you are is sheer delight!
To be apart as one embodied: sheer desire,
edge of fire in your presence…yet apart.
I was yours since as a child I heard you speaking:
yours in waking, yours at heart, and yours in dream.
I was yours as much in terrors, mists, and drowning…
So I’ll be yours, and only yours where ever I am.
Yours though aching, yours alone, and as I am.

Solitary Stranger

Photo by Johannes Plenio
Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels
The moon past full lit gravel lots
while stars yet wakeful blinked above.
Illumined shadows passing, sailed aloft,
and fallen dew lay underfoot, upon my path.
A solitary trail ran under boughs;
their branches stretching hid the path…
crooked shadows passing, ranked in rows—
where fallen leaves lay trodden, hushing steps.
Then out along mist-laden fields,
where dim the glow of dawn was yet,
a tall be-shadowed figure lurking,
looming dark at edge of morning,
walking, wading (as I went):
Through fields of fog there stalked an oak!
Now blushing sky set hills alight,
its clouds the wooded ridges cloaked:
cascading shadows, layered, robed the heights
while fallen under early light,
come Otherworldly into dawn,
my solitary stranger stood unmoved.

The Wisdom of Tai Chi

Photo by Nicole Geri
Photo by Nicole Geri on Unsplash

The world stirs at the touch of dawn’s earliest light, filtering in sideways through morning mists, and the first breeze comes like a pleasant, waking sigh. So breath and movement awaken as dawn’s veil grows thin, and all life begins a new song.

Stepping out into the dawning world, you are received. Breathing it in, its life is now your own. Known so, carried inside and out, your limbs are freed as air and light move around you. Well rested or underslept, you are met; upset or calm, you will find it meets you on its own terms.

This is how nature teaches us to practice, and Tai Chi as an art emulates nature. And so each morning we can learn the five principles of Tai Chi from a master teacher: adherence, spontaneity, softness, yielding, and rejection of brute force.

Adherence in Tai Chi means receiving your opponent, maintaining continuous and sensitive contact until you discern them. It applies in all human interactions: physical, emotional, and verbal. Adherence is listening through contact.

Seek straightness in what seems curved…
Be watchful…seek the hidden intent.
Essentials of Joint Hands

Spontaneity in Tai Chi means responding to your opponent before they fully express their intent, countering after they have initiated, but before the full cycle has been expressed. Spontaneity comes of listening with all your senses.

One part acts, all parts act;
one is still, all are still…
In stillness be rooted as a mountain,
in movement be fluid as a river.
Essentials of Joint Hands

Softness in Tai Chi means remaining relaxed in mind and body as the interaction takes form. If the mind is tense, the body will stiffen, and listening will cease. The practice of softness that listens is the cultivation of mysterious strength.

The mystery of the art is manifested in interaction.
Song of the Thirteen Postures

Yielding in Tai Chi means moving with an attack, not against it. By giving up intention you may express yourself in the movements of your opponent, but first know yourself! Yielding is self mastery that frees you from mastery by others.

Fall empty, use four ounces to deflect 1000 pounds…
Yielding to follow others, one must know oneself.
Essentials of Joint Hands

Rejecting Brute Force in Tai Chi means meeting your opponent on your terms regardless of their approach. It neither resists nor flees a powerful attack, but meets it, follows it, and defeats it after it is spent. This is the essence of Tai Chi.

In tranquility meet their movements,
in calmness operate your own.
Song of the Thirteen Postures

The ancient Chinese concept of Tai Chi is more than the martial art named after it. It is expressed everywhere there is form, in the harmony of all that is. It is how we may learn to dance with the world, and practice with the universe.

What about you? Are you ready to learn to embody the five principles? Are you willing to transform your interactions, and empower your relationships?


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