“What inspires you?”
I know she isn’t looking for a surface answer about my favorite artist or a picture I once saw. She doesn’t want to hear about such-and-such a page of such-and-such an issue of whatever magazine. She’s looking for a moment. A time when it all came together in a beautiful fusion of emotion and experience. I think hard.
Someone else in the room offers her own answer to the question. It’s a wonderful answer.
It jolts me out of my seat. A date she mentions.
I blush and wait my turn.
Lean forward and fold my hands.
“My whole life, I’ve been inspired by light. The way light falls, the presence of light. Light in art, light in photography, light in film. The galaxy, the sky. Light in various forms.”
I can see it in my mind as I speak. A visual concept I’ve always had of what light is, what it does, what it means.
“I use a lot of metaphors of light in my writing. I use light to express emotion, both things I’ve experienced and things I haven’t. I used to always use light to describe something I was looking for. I guess it was the only thing big enough to be a metaphor for what I was trying to describe.”
A flash memory of words on a page.
“Sometimes, you know, in life, you have those moments where you finally experience that thing you’ve always been thinking about. It happened to me once, actually.”
How do I articulate this while I’m feeling it all over again?
“It was this moment where I saw the most beautiful person I’d ever seen. But it wasn’t exactly a surface thing.”
I don’t try to describe who, or why. Some things really are impossible.
“I remember I was just sitting, thinking, and I swung around, and there was this beautiful person standing off behind …”
Something wells up. This completely feeble description doesn’t begin to tell the story.
“The only way I can think to describe it is, a burst of light.”
That really is the only way.
“Strangely enough, I can associate so many visual elements and colors with what it felt like … obviously, elements that weren’t literally there, but very strongly define the memory.”
Words, words. I can’t find the ones I need.
It was a wordless moment. How else to describe it but light? Light pouring in. Light falling down. Breathless light, like fireflies and fireworks and lunar waves and lens flares.
“Now, whenever I see beautiful light, it reminds me of that moment. I keep on trying to capture light and capture what it felt like.”
Can it be captured? Have I ever captured anything? Do I even know how?
If it’s anything like catching lightning bugs in a jar
or pale white moths in a net
I never could.
They say I’m a thinker.