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Can You Force Inspiration? The Universe Says “No”

Some time ago, after I was 95% immune to the illness that shall remain unnamed, I broke free of quarantine and took myself to a museum in attempt to reignite the muse. Desperate for writing inspiration, this place contained promise. Advertised as thousands of square feet of awe-inspiring immersive art, I knew this was where I'd leave renewed, re-energized, and ready to write.

Face-masked with notebook and pen packed, I trekked over and paid my admission. Fueled by a perfectly balanced cortado, I hung my coat and entered the space: airy and light, white 20+ foot ceilings with shiny, smooth floors, and a format that allowed for mental and physical wandering.

"Welcome," the eyes at the desk smiled. "Explore. Take all the time you'd like."

My nerves tingled. A small part of me felt superior to all of the normal patrons, because while they were just viewing the art, I had come for a specific reason. I had come with the elevated purpose of finding inspiration.

Haha. Hahahaha. Ha.

After the universe knocked me down a peg, this is what I took from my outing:

1. You're guaranteed to be in the way of someone's Instagram photo when the space looks like this.

Thousands of lights hang from the ceiling. An Instagrammer's paradise.

2. Even with social distancing, lines are still a thing, like the 35 minutes I waited for a robot to draw my portrait.

Sit for a while. Robot Paul will draw your portrait.

3. This was awesome in concept - leave a secret, and read someone else's secrets. But, in execution? Apparently, everyone who has visited this museum has unrequited love, and I'm no romance writer.

Read the red ones, write on the white.

4. Someone's going to jump-slap the plants.

Plants are a low-hanging fruit.

5. It's hard to be inspired when you're hungry.

It's 5:30 somewhere. In this case, here.

In all honesty, it was a super cool experience, but I went for the wrong reasons. I should have gone for enjoyment, and without preconceived notions. I did enjoy it - very much, actually, but I didn't come out ready to write. I came out smiling, but tired, fulfilled, and hungry.

It all lead to questions: is inspiration an active or passive process? Can it be both? Do the conditions need to be optimal to force inspiration, or is it just... unenforceable? Taken as a sole experience, I could say that while I found this to be fun, A didn't translate to B in terms of museum = writing fodder. But, beach often equals poetry for me, so maybe it's not true in all cases. Or, for all people, in all settings. Or, we're all different... that's probably the one.

As per usual in my case, I drove home from the museum and got stuck in rush-hour traffic. As also per usual, while sitting in traffic and letting my mind wander, I glanced at a highway overpass and saw the following words graffitied in tall black jagged lettering:

Are words weapons?

I'm sure you know exactly what happened then.

That was the precise moment when it struck - the inspiration to write.

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