Inspiration flows in us like deep waters, like secret springs. Its waters flow freely, even when it takes effort to draw them, and they are always shaping us inwardly until we do. Listening to these waters we learn their secrets. Living in relationship with them we evolve with our creative work. And like water, our work gives us life.
So what can we learn from our own inspired waters? Consider the following:
Water quietly shapes channels over time: it always looks for the easiest way, and easiness is exactly what it teaches the channel. When its flow is slow, gentle, indulgent, the channel becomes elaborate and elegant. When fast, its channel becomes straight, deep, and deliberate.
What form does your own work take? What form has your practice given you?
But the movement of inspiration is not always visible on the surface. It is more often like the waters of a spring, which can neither be forced nor withheld: they must flow whether enjoyed or missed, but they must be drawn to be shared. In a hexagram titled “The Well”, the I Ching says:
The village may change, but not the well.
There is coming and going, drawing and welling,
but never any loss or gain for the spring.
— I Ching, Hexagram 48
So the well is generous, yet with too much drawing it can run dry. It’s only by easiness that water deepens or makes beautiful. It’s because of its easiness that it is able to continue its work indefinitely. Water is playful, always seeking with soft determination, and its laughter is a music we miss if we have not heard it for long.
Have you been playful in your work lately? Has it come easily or with difficulty? You might try listening again to water’s song.
But easiness does not mean feeble. Water is relentless, even in its softness, and meticulous. It finds the edges, delights in them, and wears them down in its passing until it finds the way that will yield to it. Whether in ebb or flow its work is in everything it touches, its passion in its persistence. The Tao Te Ching says:
The highest good is like water:
it gives life to all things but does not strive…
In living, be close as water to the land.
In thought, go deep as water into the heart..
— Tao Te Ching, Verse 8
So as you apply yourself to your creative work, remember that water shows us a patient process. As a shaper of beauty and a source of life it flows of kindness. Melodious of sound and clear of color, it remains childlike. Can you be a vessel for the waters of inspiration? You are your own master work.