It All Begins With A Spark (Or Many)

Me: I’m stuck, dear. What should I write about today?

My Daughter: It’s your story. You can write about anything you want.*

Quite often, creative work begins as a flicker of an idea, a spark if you will. Most ideas, like most sparks, if not tended to properly, if not given just the right amount of oxygen and fuel, will die out. With some combination of luck and attentiveness, however, one of these sparks might get exactly what it needs to catch, bursting into a bright, beautiful flame that both warms and lights up the space around it.

Much like a fire, most creative ideas, if they are going to grow into something powerful and useful, require a lot more than one spark before they catch. Every one counts, but most flicker and fade, dying out, seeming to vanish into thin air before finding what they need in order to become something more. For this reason, if we are going to have one great idea, we must have many, many more not-so-great ideas.

We never know which spark or which idea will catch, what it will become, or to where it will lead, so we have to keep trying. Inspiration does not simply come to us. We must seek it, pay attention to it, and nurture it.

*What does this all have to do with the conversation I had with my daughter this morning while she ate her breakfast and I made my coffee? That’s the thing. I do not know. I invited inspiration. It answered. When it did, I gave it attention, fuel, room to breathe, and the result was the result.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.

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