Monday, January 9, 2012

Fragments and Inspiration

                What is inspiration? I wish I knew. Then maybe I’d feel some sort of motivation to write more often—or at the very least finish a thought before abandoning it.
                I have not written a blog post in quite a while. (Durr.) It’s not really because I don’t have the inspiration, but more that inspiration seems to hit at really stupid times. While driving home from work, I will compose a fantastic poem, clinging desperately to at least the first three lines!!!!... only to forget them the moment I pull into the driveway. I watch the man in the cubicle next to me glare at me over the flimsy partitions which really don’t block anything (really, buddy, there’s no way in hell I could possibly be louder than you. Seriously. I don’t know why you’re glaring at me.) and get the idea for the few lines of a short story, floating around in my head… and then my supervisor emails me and gives me another project to work on. I’m in that silly half-awake stage of sleep, my body jolting me from deep sleep in an attempt to capture some thought that I just have to consider right away… and I either fall back asleep or my darn cat starts purring and jumps on my head.
                Inspiration is everywhere. If something as mundane as my cubicle neighbor glaring at me can trigger it, it must be easy to find. So why does it always disappear as soon as you try to capture it? I think one of my biggest problems is that I think in fragments, rarely in whole, cohesive thoughts. This makes it much more difficult to capture and maintain the thought process. When I find inspiration, I find pieces of lines, not full ones. I get conceptual, not concrete data. I suppose that’s the way it works for a lot of people, but I just don’t seem to be one of those people who can transfer those moments and fragments from my mind into reality.
                I think that’s what I liked so much about being in school. I didn’t really have to be inspired, per se, in order to write my papers or complete my assignments… but inspiration seemed to come and to stay much more easily. True, I generally had prompts and guidelines to help me, but I think that was part of what I enjoyed the most—creating something completely my own within the lines enforced by someone else. In school, I didn’t have to worry about anything else except the inspiration—I had to do it, and there was much less distracting me from the inspiration which would hit. I was usually in a position where I could immediately write down whatever came to me, and had much more motivation to rework things so that they fit completely and coherently. I was much better at taking the fragments floating around my head and molding them into something which fit with whatever I was trying to do. I guess I’m just a “color inside the lines” type of person…but I’m also the one who uses the bright purple crayon for the person’s skin, even while meticulously keeping the crayon from going outside the pre-defined borders. Cornell allowed me to do that, encouraging the occasional oddness.
                Part of the difficulty after school has been finding those lines; or, in most cases, attempting to work outside of them because they simply don’t exist. At school I enjoyed taking classes as a sort of “means to an end.” Not that I didn’t want to take them—I did! But I liked that I knew (with few exceptions) exactly which classes I needed in order to complete my degree. Yes, there was a little bit of leeway; many of the classes fell into categories, and you could take one of several different classes to fulfill the requirement. But I knew that I needed one of that type of class, and I liked having that guideline in place to sort of show me the way.
                Now, I don’t have a distinct set of steps showing me the way, and I find myself at a loss for inspiration and motivation when it comes to life as well. I’m going to be honest—I have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. And, now that I’m not in school anymore, I’m having trouble even figuring out how to come to that decision. I am interested in a lot of things, but they are like the fragments of thoughts within my head—they just seem to disappear or refuse to come together to create something cohesive. I can’t even seem to figure out what interests me more or less than anything else, which is really frustrating and makes the whole process even more difficult. I can’t seem to process my own thoughts, or see what I’m good at, or what career path would be best for me. I think, in many ways, I’m trying too hard to piece the fragments together, and find a way to combine certain interests together. I know that I’m not going to be able to incorporate everything that I’m interested in—but since I am leaning toward going into one of the fields of psychology, I need to be able to decide what, specifically, interests me within psychology. And the biggest problem is that there are far too many fragments for me to seem to be able to determine the answer to that.
                I have a lot of interests when it comes to psychology. I love the concept of language, and language function and acquisition, and the way that language shapes our views of the world. I love figuring out the “puzzles” of people; being able to determine why they’re acting a certain way, or what’s causing them to think certain things about themselves or others or the world as a whole.  I love figuring out what’s going on in the brain, and how the structures of the brain influence people. I love having solutions for people based on what I know about how people act and why, and being the person that others come to because they know that I’ll be able to help them figure out what to do in specific situations. I think most all of these things lead me toward a career in counseling psychology, especially as I’m not a very “science-y” person (meaning that doing things like brain scans and all the things that go along with neuropsychology would be really difficult for me and not make me happy in the long run; while there is certainly interaction with people, there is generally no focus on or opportunity for providing treatment [unless I was a medical doctor, which I don’t want to be]).
I also really love the idea of psychology as a means to understanding literature—it combines both my love of psychology and my love of words and reading. This is probably the most difficult one; I’m not entirely sure how to turn this into a career, but I think that, over time, this would be the one that I would enjoy the most. It’s part of why I did so well as an English major at Cornell—I used my knowledge of psychology to analyze whatever we were reading, and was able to write more unique papers and understand the works in a different way than most people as a result. Again, though, this path would mean that I was unable to work with people. And even though I hate people as a general rule, I’m really good at understanding them and helping them (not to sound arrogant, this is based on experience in classes and with helping friends). Plus I enjoy that aspect of psychology a lot.
Each time I think I’ve found the way to piece these fragments together, the same thing happens as when I’m trying to write—I get the general concept, but as soon as I try to solidify the thought, I get distracted or it disappears. The inspiration is there, but it keeps slipping through my fingers. But every so often, I manage to get a grip on one of the fragments and expand it, am able to use it and understand it and reinforce it until it’s a concrete, tangible thought. A written piece. A completed work. Hopefully the inspiration for this blog is just the first step—maybe capturing that inspirational fragment means that I’ll soon be able to ensnare the fragment of enlightenment which will allow me to determine what I want to do with my life, and make it easier to function without the benefit of other peoples’ lines.

Or, maybe, I'll finally be able to just finish a thought.

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