What does inspiration really mean?

–verb (used without object) 12. to give inspiration.  13. to inhale.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” – William Ward

The first time I ever heard of the color, the enticing and spicy word “magenta”, it fell from the ruby lips of my second grade teacher, Phyllis Madrid, in 1965, during a lesson about art and color. In a world of Smith’s and Jones’ , even her name was mysterious and enchanting. She was the embodiment of nothing a small town child had ever seen before. Maybe it was the long red fingernails, maybe the way she carried herself with loving authority, maybe because every word she spoke was like a kaleidoscope of ideas and wonder. In a time when many women educators were unmarried (desirable in those days), dressed conservatively, and lived in a teacherage on campus, Mrs Madrid dressed like a multicolored flag, was married to the Great Bollo, a world wide wrestling champion and lived in a near by county.  Needless to say, I was enamored.

In a curriculum where the closest a student came to actual art was coloring or painting with fingerpaints, Mrs Madrid introduced paper mache. She  guided her seven year olds deftly through the process of dipping paper strips in paste and water to cover a packed newspaper and masking tape frame. Our objective was to create animals. I made an elephant. A magenta one. With gold trim. Mrs. Madrid had rubbed off- she had, through her mere presence and guidance to discover all that was in a seven year old’s imagination, inspired me.

My life became evenly divided. Before the Madrid and After the Madrid. She birthed a defining moment in my development without probably ever knowing it. The spring concert featured the entire second grade singing songs from The Sound Of Music. We stood on bleachers in the high school gymnasium and as i sang “climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow- til you find your dream”, i was inexorably changed. I discovered my innate calling,music, and the sublime state of inspiration.

Inspiration, as the wisened Dr Wayne Dyer describes it, is to be In Spirit. It is to be so closely linked with Spirit and Source, you forget anything except what is happening at that very moment. We have all had it at one time. Writing a song. Intensely finishing a piece of music. Laying down the perfect vocal track. Watching fans sing along to an original tune. That happiness, that innate, heady joy of being one with your creation is being In Spirit.

Sometimes along our path to be successful, we forget about all the happenings that brought us to music. We forget about the first time we were enamored, mesmerized, inspired by a performer or teacher the feel of strings under our fingers or the sound of our own authentic voice lifted up in song. Rediscover your birth of inspiration today. And be a good teacher. Share it with another who may be struggling or stymied in their musical efforts. Embody inspiration and pass it on.

The Madrid would thank you.


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