Looking for inspiration

I’ve got the winter blahs.

It’s happened every year for the past five years or so. The anticipation of holidays has past. The glory of Winter Games is over. I’ve been south and back, and now I’m left anxiously awaiting spring.

It’s the time of year that nature seems dead to me. Some of my favorite places are closed. Most people aren’t as vibrant this time of year, and I’m among them.

I’m just uninspired during the frigid month of February, but I’m trying to beat some inspiration out of somewhere.

I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia and Destin, Florida in search of something I didn’t have. I learned to salsa dance. I felt the independence of traveling alone in an airport. I took in the variety of international food options a big city brings. I saw a magnificent exhibit of paintings from The Louvre in Paris. I celebrated life with my friend Mel and her daughters as we ran along an empty beach in the rain.

In traveling, I found things I don’t have, but I left them there.

Of course, I’ve dug into books this season, but have failed to find one that’s inspired me yet. I’ve been wonderfully transported to worlds that aren’t mine, and I’ve been entertained in the process, but I wasn’t yet inspired.

So, I turn to conversation, where I’m sure to find someone to inspire me.

Last week, I had one of those conversations during a Portraits interview. I was talking with F. Joseph Wilson, and you’ll see his story in the Portraits edition scheduled for publication in April.

I don’t think Joe had any idea I was inspired, but as we spoke, I felt enlightened. Joe and I were talking about life and what’s next. Like many, he’s struggling with what his next steps might be. He questioned our choosing him for our Portraits edition when he’s so unsure about where life will be taking him.

I simply pointed out that his uncertainty is real and our special section is about real people. The struggle is real. The risks in life are real. The questions are what keep us alive. We’re just as pleased to run a story about someone who is questioning and searching as we are about someone who seems to have everything figured out. I think we find inspiration in the unknown. In the uncertainty. In life’s questions.

In December, I talked with a new friend about how being comfortable often kills one’s ambition. I agreed wholeheartedly at the time, but now I’m not so sure.

In many situations, like Joe’s, our focus when we’re “not comfortable” is on figuring out what’s next – so we can be comfortable again. Of course, being comfortable makes us less likely to search for a new career or home or spouse or hobby. But the discomfort also takes most of our focus toward ways to make our lives more comfortable. We intrinsically want to be comfortable.

Lately, I feel comfortable. I had questioned whether this is a good thing because I don’t have a lot of life goals to make myself more comfortable. I guess I thought that my ambition was a bit dead, but now I think being comfortable can also feed ambition.

Being comfortable makes us relaxed enough to discuss life’s questions and difficulties with our friends. Being comfortable allows us to find our passions and focus on them. Being comfortable frees us to grow in ways we couldn’t if we were focused on a new job or home or other things.

So, I guess I’m OK now with being “comfortable.” But I’ll be more comfortable when spring is here.