Day 22: Where Do You Draw Inspiration?

Somewhere in Thailand. Photo Courtesy of Wilson.

A boy and a girl cheekily posed next to a red Ferrari while their mother took a picture. They were so enthralled by the first take, both insisted to have a couple more. The other adults, who were part of the group, stood a cautious distance from the excitement, probably slightly embarrassed. It was an adorable moment, mostly because they’re only 4-foot tall. No self-respecting adult would submit themselves to such vulnerable situation… especially when the owner was closely watching his prized possession two shops away. I wonder what the kids told their mum when they caught a glimpse of the shiny red sports car, “I want it when I’m big”. Oh, the innocent optimism.

A man and his wife sat next to our table in the Auckland airport business lounge. As a birthday gift (from me to me), I managed to snag a couple of business class tickets on our way back to Melbourne three weeks ago. Unlike most of the patrons there, we were neither rich, holding important job titles or over 30. Through the virtue of anal-retentiveness, I collected enough frequent flyer points to upgrade our cheap internet economy tickets to business class by adding another couple of hundred bucks. Not a bad investment considering the comfort (sleeper seat with massager), free-flowing premium brand alcohol, five-star gourmet food and free chauffeur-driven ride home. But wait, that’s not the most memorable part of the trip.

Back to this man.

Eavesdropping is a skill I’ve developed ever since my classmate whispered the exam answers on my first grade. He mentioned about his business venture in Dubai (we flew with Emirates, my favourite airlines) and his motor-cross hobby. “I want to create my own destiny”, he said to the retired couple with whom he shared the table. “One time I was invited for a motor-cross event and I had to sit in the economy class because that’s what the organizer gave me while my wife sat in the business class.” Well, that’s not the kind of conversation you would overhear in the cattle class.

Despite the snobbish latter comment, I found his first comment compelling, even inspirational. It’s much more compelling than the preach blurted by many rich self-help gurus out there because he didn’t say it to sell any products and I know how expensive international long-haul business class tickets from Emirates are.

In my early 20s, I was an addict to self-help get-rich seminars and programs. I spent thousands of dollars buying their products (while getting into debt as well… how ironic) which helped me to reach a certain point, but not to the point they sell. You know the hype; Ferraris, house on the beach, yacht, super gorgeous yet faithful and supportive partner (ha! Cognitive dissonance, anyone?), etc, etc.  It’s amazing how much money these people can make by selling out dreams and inspiration.

Thankfully, I no longer draw inspiration from material riches. Like productivity, it’s a never-ending uphill battle. After you get a BMW, you’ll want Porsche; and then Ferrari, then Bentley, then Maserati (please excuse my lack of knowledge in exclusive cars hierarchy). Where do you stop? Don’t get me wrong, I won’t snub the opportunity to create more wealth, but if the end result is to simply be rich, I would give up easily.

I find passionate people working for meaningful cause to be inspirational. I find cutting-edge artworks by random high school students inspirational. I find the innocent joy of those two kids inspirational (when was the last time you had that?).

Writing a blog has similar condition too. Some people have the talent and skills to write so eloquently every time. My husband is one of them. The rest (myself included) need boost of inspiration, time to develop skills and plenty of courage to keep going. Luckily, I discovered a couple of blogs that would do any writers a great service:

  • Theboxcarkids’s Blog: A journey of a single mother living in an RV with her four children. Don’t let that fool you. Her writing is wise and intelligent. I savour each and every sentence.
  • Misha Adair on Books: A fellow Melbournian, an avid book reader and a beard-keeping enthusiast. Check out his 10 “rules” for writing a blog. My favourite line is about the type of music you should listen to while writing, “Bach is good, but he’s so good that he makes you lose confidence even in breathing, let alone writing.”

So, now it’s your turn. Where do you draw inspiration?

17 Responses to “Day 22: Where Do You Draw Inspiration?”
  1. Great question, Bytta. I spend hours reading business magazines, reading great blogs like yours, listening to podcasts, and checking out the latest financial news before I come up with a single idea I want to write about. I just went a whole week without any inspiration before I started putting bits and pieces of things I’d been reading together. Other weeks I’ll have 4 or 5 ideas without any effort at all. I like Proust’s idea of writing in bed in a room with cork on the walls 🙂

    • Bytta says:

      Well, that’s very kind, Sir 🙂
      So, last week when you’re gone, were you planning on stamping corks on your walls? (oh, please do)

      I like your approach of waiting until you write good content rather than just posting anything up there for the sake of doing it. I’m doing the same thing too… out of sheer laziness 😀

  2. I’m inspired by making a difference. It may be teaching my children how to multiply fractions, or a millionaire how to better serve her customers. Each time I have shared knowledge or skill with another and it is put to use, I am inspired to learn more myself. With more knowledge comes more opportunity to repeat the cycle.

    • Bytta says:

      You’re right again, Coach.
      I remember that feeling of helping others who successfully apply my counsel; it’s better than winning a lottery… well, not that I have, but still 🙂

  3. FinEngr says:

    As of recent – I’ll have to say I’m drawing inspiration from fellow bloggers.

    It can be disheartening at times when you’re standing outside “the circle”. Everyone else keeps trying to convince you otherwise, and you must continue to be resilient with your thoughts.

    I especially like how you bring up that it is a never ending battle. Once you arrive at one social class, there’s still more above you to reach for.

    I used to think that living in a cul-de-sac in the suburbs, driving a low- to mid-level European car, and holding some mid-management position meant you “made it” by American standards.

    I had the fortunate experience of associating with REAL wealth…the kind that pays $200,000+ in property taxes. After that, I think back to those “poor saps” pretending they’ve made it and the delusion they’re convincing themselves of.

    • Bytta says:

      Hi FinEngr,
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Well, by that American standards, I think I “made it”… although I’m going to sell my low-to-mid-level European car and rely on public transport :).
      I don’t really understand what paying $200k in property taxes translates to. But it sounds like they’re the really rich folks. I bet they would be unhappy if they’re being compared to those who pay $300k in property taxes (and have other assets to match).

      • FinEngr says:

        Congrats on living the “dream”! 🙂

        Public transportation gets a bad rap here, sort of like the postal service, but depending on where you live – it can be highly useful. There are talks of putting in more light rail in major cities around the US.

        The property taxes are calculated as a percentage. So the homes are $15-20mil. Ha – you bet. There were those “poor” neighbors living in $5-$10mil homes.

  4. This post really spoke to me… and it’s included in my blog roundup:

  5. Hmm great post Bytta!
    I draw inspiration from traveling, from reading books (though I’m not doing that very well at the moment), reading other blogs…
    I’m not one for the material riches either… though I do want to save enough for a down payment on a house.. but that’s pretty much it. And travel. =)

  6. I like your style of writing, through your words, your voice in my head has a sweet sound!

    I agree with FinEngr – “I’m drawing inspiration from fellow bloggers”, including your site!

    As a kid I always wondered what it would be like to live in various people houses just to feel what their family life was like. Thru these blogs and especially with voices like yours, I kind of get a watered down version of what I wanted as a kid (hehe living the dream huh).

    It’s a great feeling!

  7. Very nice post. I tend to draw inspiration from my own imagination (cheesy, I know); I have a tendency to day dream, nearly constantly, and while most of what goes through my head is pure fantasy, the thoughts I have about what I want out of live (as well as what I want for my (future) children) spur on my desire to grow, learn, and make my life more productive.

    • Bytta says:

      I just found out about Walter Mitty the other day and would admit that I do share such tendency to daydream… 😀 Who doesn’t?
      It’s great for you that it becomes motivation and inspiration. So long that you don’t sit around, daydreaming is the cheapest way to make you happy.

Check out what others are saying...
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