When I get inspired, there’s essentially one of two camps the ideas fall into: the first casts a shadow of a doubt; the second casts no shadow at all.
When an idea doesn’t cast a shadow — for example a fingering that gets me through a prickly passage of playing — the idea feels immutable like a math proof. It’s as though the idea has no other substitute and can never be improved upon. This class of inspiration is one that’s nice to have.
The other flavor of inspiration always is accompanied with a shadow. And if the idea is profound, then equally magnificent is the shadow that juts from it.
Good ideas can be scary, and the shadow is the animal-brain trying to shut it out; something new could lead to trouble, after all. But, you can’t uninvite or suppress it; it comes with the package. No matter how many times you fall down the rabbit hole, your audacious idea will always cast a shadow.
It’s the meaningful ideas that tend to cast the gnarliest of shadows. Sometimes this shadow is so long and profound, the fruitful idea-tree seems to pale in comparison. Other times, the shadow is stubby, as if the sun is directly overhead.
But no matter if an idea comes like ‘Eureka!’, or it twists & turns thereby casting a wretched shadow, I know how to feel about it either way. Of course, I prefer the former, and rather hate the later, as I think we all want our ideas to feel like they’re guaranteed to work out.
It’s part of the physics of being inspired, I think. It can be tricky to reconcile with this self-doubt — or the ‘Resistance,’ as Steven Pressfield likes to call it. But if one knows how to frame their feelings, how to think about this self-doubt, then at least one can go ahead with their ideas with confidence and gusto.