Groove. Mojo. Spark. Inspiration.
Whatever you call it, mine has been running mighty low. I don’t think I’m alone.
Even as vaccinations roll out here in B.C., and as our leaders announce a “restart,” it can feel tough to get through a day with only positivity in one’s heart.
In my home office, where I spend the bulk of my days now, I have a small poster with a quote from Robin Williams that I like to look at. It says: “You’re given only a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
I met Robin Williams once, years ago, at a big E3 party in Los Angeles. 50 Cent was singing (and hawking his new game) as someone I knew introduced me to the famous actor. People were drunk. Somebody at the table of men—colleagues of mine—made a slightly inappropriate comment about me and others laughed. I remember the sad and sorry look that Williams had in his eyes as he shook my hand, like he was apologizing for them. We had a nice conversation after that. He was sweet, kind, and subdued, not at all like the manic character he often played on talk shows, or in his movies. He got me talking about Vancouver Island where I grew up, and I remember he told me how much he loved walking through the old forests there, and listening to the quiet.
It saddens me that we lost Robin Williams, and that he didn’t, in the end, find a way to balance his brilliant spark of madness with that quiet he sought.
So many things depend on finding that balance.
I’ve always been a hard worker. I’ve always been determined, for reasons that I don’t fully understand, and I see it in my son now, too. Even as he screams out his frustration at some skill or task—lately it’s learning to play the piano—he goes back to it time after time after time, and tries again, plays it again, tries it a different way until he gets it, and is rewarded by a burst of satisfaction, or joy, or that beautiful sound of a melody well-played.
The amazing bit is that joy—that reward—often then spurs him on to play again, perhaps something more difficult, and begin the cycle again. I suspect it works much that way for all of us.
It is a cycle. As we move through these hard times, every day we have to find a way to invite a little light in. To ease up on the accelerator and to rest when we need to. To take time to recharge and to restore, so that we’re open to inspiration when it finds us.
When I named my company—Forge and Spark—that’s really what I was on about. I wanted to build a business that could find and live in that balance between solid and ineffable. That could promise the hard work, the determination to get something right, and the dedication to a craft or a skill, but that would also promise something more intangible and unknowable, something felt, that lights us from within and that inspires others.
For us, that light is storytelling that expresses purpose. And even here, it’s balancing the stories you need to tell—stories about your work, or products, or benefits, stories that help you teach your customers—with stories that delight, and entertain, or prompt joy.
Me, I turn to my books. I’ve been doing yoga in my office during the pandemic, and sometimes when I’m upside down looking at titles on my shelf I’ll pause and pull one down and spend 15 minutes getting lost in a world or a thought that I’d loved, but forgotten a little. Old books remind me of old selves and give me new permission to learn from that person or release her.
Lara NEEDS to create things. “Anything. Ugly things, beautiful things, it doesn’t matter. I need to get my hands dirty so I can’t touch the computer. That is what brings my spark back: when I create art.”
Lisa says: “I feel the spark when just the right words come together on the page in that magical way that gives me a bit of a shiver down my spine. I also feel it when I get away from my screen, and head outside for a breath of fresh air with my daughter, and as I watch her practice her monkey bar skills over and over again until she can go one bar farther than she did the day before. My drive and encouragement push her, and her determination and glowing pride at her success, in turn, refills my tank.”
Cindy, who has an English degree, reignites her spark by getting lost … preferably in a trashy, low brow, page turning novel. “If my spark is really low,” she adds, “I’ll add in some during-reading-ice cream (neapolitan, heavy on the strawberry) and a bubble bath or two. Yes. I sometimes have two baths a day.” And we salute her.
Taryn, a self-described compulsive social media user (it comes with the job), often finds that there’s only one way to regain her spark: by physically removing herself from her devices. “This can mean leaving my iPhone in the kitchen and heading to bed with a good book, or trekking out on a bike ride or backpacking trip where there’s plenty to gawk at that isn’t on a screen.”
Mewmew says “I often catch myself staring aimlessly out the window when I’m trying to figure something out. A quick pause away from the screen helps align my thoughts. I also find my spark in cooking a new recipe. It’s the joy of successfully (that’s the key word) creating something delightful and sharing it with those around me.”
For Esther, “prayer opens the window of mindfulness for me to be aware of what is going on around me in the present moment. I go away into a quiet place (with no TV or gadgets) and, after meditating on a scripture in the Bible, I connect with God through prayer. I also sparkle again by singing along to a christian jam or a hymn. This combo connects me with my inner joy no matter what’s going on in my life.”
Bronwyn says her spark gets ignited when she can take a step away from the day-to-day. “Usually it involves a trip to a body of water (river, lake, ocean – I’m not picky) or at least into nature. This allows me time to disconnect from my constant working brain and focus on what’s around me, my family and my people. This is one of the reasons we live where we do with so many outdoor areas to explore. You can find me and the kids picking berries in a rainstorm or down by the river to see how the water levels are changing. We have decided to join the 1,000 hours outdoors challenge, as I also feel the sparkle when I hit a goal.”
Elim says: “I really get going when planning themed parties. Which has been a bummer during COVID. But when I think back to all the themed parties my friends and I have thrown, I am happiest coming up with team outfits, decor, themed party favours and entertainment. These events give me space to be creative AND reap the benefits of all that planning.” A few of Elim’s favourite events? Throwing a baby shower and creating a “pin the sperm on the fallopian tube” (with an ovulating egg as the target). Throwing a frat party for a friend’s 30th with a life-size Pam Anderson poster, toga outfits and sorority sister Gamma Gamma shirts. She also threw her own Pink & Purple Princess Party (at age 27) where each guest had to wear those colours, were forced to participate in a photo treasure hunt, drank pink & purple martinis, beat up a pink pinata, and received post-it note pads with her face printed on them.
While we’re all waiting for an invitation to Elim’s next party, we invite you to share, too: Where do you go to find and/or reignite your spark? We’d love to know.
Because every spark matters. Every story matters, too. Get out there and share yours.
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