January 10, 2016

Inspiration in Places

Inspiration can be a tricky thing. I used to be inspired all the time. Anything could get me writing. Encounters with people. A trip to the mall. Slow weeks.
 Abandoned gas station with an old Mercedes. You could just be on Route 66 in Arizona.
But I’ve been facing writers block lately. Even slow months no longer inspire me. What is this complacency that inhibits me to create with words? Inspiration works different for everyone (example and example).  
I believe my inspiration is related to motion, but I can’t prove that. When I am on the move, I get inspired. Sometimes. If I stay put, this inspiration drains and I become enervated. I am sure some researcher somewhere has identified a link between mobility and motivation. My current job does not allow for much movement lately. As such, time to get on the road.
There is the palm-tree lined boulevard, the Corniche in Beirut, that transports me to PCH in Huntington Beach. Sorry about the quality, took it through a dirty car window with my phone
What does this remind you of? Not Lebanon.

While on the road this morning, the incredible diversity of this place struck me. The decision of where to go in itself is already an exercise in choosing.  Skiing, a mountain hike, a beach picnic or a bike ride along the coast? A lunch downtown, or a museum visit? Granted, most choices (if not all) cost money, but in a recent discussion with some friends the conclusion was that these days Beirut is a city only to be enjoyed by the affluent. The rest survive, and only barely at that. And it does not look like the current economic depression is going to lighten up any time soon.
Don’t complain. The fact that you (if you’re in Lebanon) are reading this means you’re not only able to pay the ridiculous internet fees, but also that you are doing better than most; internet is a luxury for many.
Transported to a coastal road in Italy somewhere?
And if you make it out of town, there’s more variety waiting for you, this time in landscapes.  And each landscape reminds me of another place. Talking about inspiration. Some places bring me back to what Lebanon must have looked like in the fifties. Other scenery brings me to other countries.
Lanes lined with eucalyptus trees that make you feel you’re in South-Africa (not that I’ve ever been there, but the internet does not transports only information).  

Or how about this one? 4236 Sterling Highway, Alaska. Haven’t been there either, but Google Street View is pretty magical too.
It’s mind-boggling what possibilities this country provides, and how little we do with it. Or actually how we abuse it.
Some 25 years after the war, and we still do not have 24 hour electricity, proper garbage disposal, a way to preserve and better utilize our fresh water resources or decent free education for all.
25 Years after the war, and we are still ruled by the old war lords, women pay fortunes on operations to make them all look alike,  while next door they’re dying of hunger, we’ve got ISIS at our door steps, the economic situation is shot, and nobody is (well, a few) willing to go to the streets and protests.

Not sure what this reminds me of.

No wonder I lack inspiration. It's a good thing we have the scenery left.


Anonymous said...

Very beautiful as usual. Thx.

Julie said...

I discovered your blog while researching for a book I am writing. I'm captivated by it - by your images and your experiences there. I lived, for a year, in the south of Lebanon in the late 1990s in a quiet village not far from Nabatieh. I, too, was awed by the diversity of the geography in Lebanon. Thank you for being present and sharing with us.

Anonymous said...

Well said Sietske.

Tanya Dernaika said...

Sadly, I hear you loud and clear and the scene from my window doesn't help either. Beautifully articulated as always.

visnja said...

Great! As always! Thanks!