Moving People: An Exploration of Inspiration and Human Nature

Image of guest blogger Maureen Batty

By Maureen Batty

Being deeply moved by the written word always seems like a bit of a hijacking.

I am comfortable, usually in my own home, when someone suddenly takes over my heart, my breath and that feeling in the pit of my stomach from an entirely different location — where the author first put pen to paper or fingertip to keyboard.

It happened months ago when I read John Green’s “The Fault in Our Stars” and cried so hard I thought I was pregnant.

It happened again just a week or two back when I was editing a gorgeous piece of writing that ended suddenly, perfectly and unassumingly with a man changing his mind. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? But the writer had so completely sucked me into this man’s firm mindset that when he surrendered it for the love of his child, I felt the importance of his change of mind.

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.”
― John Green, The Fault in Our Stars

Sometimes the effect isn’t heart-stoppingly dramatic but memorable. It happened when I was reading “Unbroken,” that incredible story of an Olympic athlete whose plane went down during World War II. Author Laura Hillenbrand just dropped the slightest mention of Edith Frank tending her infant daughter Anne Frank and I was absolutely enchanted by her way of providing context.

But it doesn’t have to be the written word; anything that puts a finger on the pulse of human nature — movies, music, photography, architecture, theater and even a television commercial or a comic strip — can take you completely away from your present moment, whether it lifts you up or weighs on your heart.

From time to time in this space, I hope to explore what moves people. To kick things off, I asked three very different people this question: When you think of how human nature and the arts collide, what inspires you?

Here is what they had to say:

Eno Laget

Strawberry by street artist Eno Legat

“I don’t think of collision, ever. It’s more like human nature and arts mixed is a colloid (I am suspended in a continuous phase of another component). Here, I am fog, or I am paint — body and spirit mixed by a source I cannot see, yet I know is real. I have been made and set into motion for a purpose I do not understand because my mind is too puny. Yet, I choose to believe in the driving force that created me for some duration that is beyond my control.

“I am foam rubber. No matter how often depressed, I return to my original form to be in service of my purpose. The tension of this continuous suspension is inspiring. Maintaining balance is a challenge I embrace. To be neither swallowed, nor spit out by the dominant culture until I wear out is the goal.”

Eno Laget is a Detroit-area street artist. He is featured in “Canvas Detroit” by authors Julie Pincus, Nichole Christian and 25 other inspired photographers and contributors. Eno Laget exhibited the above mixed-media image of a woman called Strawberry, who reportedly was killed for knowing too much, at Red Bull Creation in summer 2014.

Michelle Jimenez

Meghan-Trainor-All-About--Bass image

“These days, it’s Meghan Trainor’s song “All About That Bass.” This catchy, fun tune is an instant pick-me-up and an unexpected source of inspiration for a serious soul like me. Though the song encourages a positive body image for all, its message of self-acceptance helps ward off my never-ending and very human drive toward general perfection that goes beyond just trying to attain that perfect number on the scale. To name a few items on my list of elusive perfection: Perfectly clean house, perfectly fed, groomed and happy child and perfectly energetic and engaging wife.

“As a new and first-time mom, I’m still adjusting to the work-life balance, and I welcome any message out there that, after a day at the office, makes it a little easier not to cringe at our atrocious kitchen floor or beat myself up that my toddler’s sharp nails again didn’t get clipped before bed or that I won’t be able to keep my eyes open long enough to watch my husband’s and my favorite TV show. It’s all about that (self) acceptance.”

Michelle Jimenez is a wife, mom and professional communicator who lives in San Antonio, Texas. She most enjoys spending time with family and friends, romping around with her toddler and engaging in creative expression.

Tara Michener

Image of Tara Michener

“So many opportunities to grow, learn, change and develop exist in simple works of art. As humans we see ourselves in paintings, we express ourselves in crafting, we find ourselves in our ability to write a story.

“I specifically think of my own journaling and thought sketching and how my therapeutic creative writing details my own personal experiences from a fiction perspective.

“While human nature and the arts collide in many ways, I am most inspired when I speak to someone who shares their thoughts with me about how my children’s fiction has allowed their child to have a deeper perspective on bullying, diversity and/or self-esteem.”

A counselor, writer, consultant and more, Tara Michener of Novi, Mich., is the founder of “Professionals Against Bullying,” which supports those who have been affected by relational, social and physical aggression. She adores her husband and son, and enjoys running.

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Maureen Batty is a Detroit-based writer, editor and lover of how human nature and the arts collide.

Learn more about Maureen at www.liveloveedit.com.

Inspired to share your own thoughts on the topic human nature and arts?

We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

©Maureen Batty and Wildemere Publishing LLC [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is to Maureen Batty and Wildemere Publishing LLC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 2014

Summer 1975 – Part 1: Kung Fu Fighting

“Jaws,” Jimmy Hoffa, and the Barbie doll trials: That was 1975, the year I learned to pretend to let go.

Pretending, of course, was a skill I had been honing since toddlerhood when I was queen of the hill and the class bully my serf, when Brussels sprouts were Martian heads and I did the earth a service by devouring them, when a car wash was the belly of an angry sea monster and I lived to tell of its defeat. I was a master fantasizer, a fiction writer in training. I was imaginative and precocious. Most of all I was content, and then summer came.

It started well enough: Temperatures were conducive to plenty of driveway kickball games, front yard TV tag, and backyard chicken with friends on the jungle gym. My brother and I got along better than usual: Meaning, neither of us was trying to kill the other. In fact, I was his secret weapon on the football field (aka our backyard). I was fearless, fast, and fairly strong, not at all like the typical girl, which was good. Calling me “typical” was as bad to me as me calling the dog a “little m—-f—’er” was to my parents. But one day, the game was a bit rougher than usual and resulted in the injury of one of my neighbors.file7841289514020

I say this in the passive (“resulted in”) as if I had nothing to do with it. Perhaps I was over-exuberant. Perhaps it was time for his baby teeth to fall out. Perhaps he should have sucked it up and not cried in front of everyone, again. Or, perhaps his mother should have held her tongue. Still, I question the cause and effect and feel the need to assign blame.

Here are the highlights as I recall them: David* — the youngest of two, older, playboy brothers and two sisters — had the football and running swiftly toward the goal. My brother told me to get him; so I leaped, surprising myself by knocking David face first into the dirt. But there was no rejoicing in my victory. Instead, David sobbed miserably as he unfolded himself from the earth. As he raised his hand to his mouth, someone howled David’s front teeth were gone. The boy’s sobs grew louder, and it wasn’t long before his mother came running from the house.

She surveyed the damage, asking David what happened. When he mumbled something only a mother could decipher, she looked at each of us accusingly until her eyes settled on me. Then things got worse. For all the neighborhood boys to hear, she declared: “You can’t play with Leslie anymore. She’s too rough for you.”

It was the 1970s, and we were in Detroit. Machismo was rampant. KC and the Sunshine fordBand’s “Get Down Tonight” topped the charts; President Ford declared America done with the Vietnam war and survived his second assassination attempt; Carlos the Jackal attacked OPEC; and “Three Days of the Condor,” “Rollerball,” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” were a few of the year’s top films. Men were called dudes and “Man” prefaced or ended every sentence. “Man, did you see that dude down at the car wash? He seemed a little light on his feet, man.” Or, “Man, that dude was Mac, man. He was pimping that ride.”

So, you see, David was humiliated. He was punked by a girl, a very small girl.

My scant friendship with David ended that day on our imaginary football field with him running head down into the house and his mother giving us one last reproachful glance. But it would not be my last interaction with the boy next door.