In life, and in travel especially, people always talk about their ‘Bucket List’, meaning the things they’d like to do before they kick the bucket. Some people have tried to put a more positive spin on it by calling it a ‘Life List” of the things you’d like to do sometime in your life to fulfill a dream, a goal, or an adventure.
I like to think that what has led me to make choices in my life, including this website, has to do with something more powerful than a list of boxes to check, or the fear of running out of time before hitting them all – and that thing is Inspiration.
It was Inspiration that I found in a book by Irving Stone that led me to choose an Anatomy for Artists course while studying Fine Art in University, where I learned to dissect cadavers. Why? Because I had read The Agony and the Ecstasy about Michelangelo, who in order to better understand the bodies that he sculpted and painted, dissected human cadavers (which happened to be totally illegal at the time). I figured what was good enough for Michelangelo to risk imprisonment in order to become a better artist, was good enough for me, too.
Inspiration from a history teacher in high school led me to travel to Greece many years later, in order to visit the Palace of Knossos on the island of Crete. I absolutely had to see for myself the ancient ‘flush toilet’ in the Queen’s Chamber that my teacher described when we were studying ancient Greece. For whatever reason, this odd little detail brought history alive for me and put Crete on my Inspiration List of must-see places.
And then there are movies. First they were the ‘swords and sandals’ movies that I watched as a kid in the 60s, the cast-of-thousands epics set in the ancient worlds of Rome, Greece, and Egypt. The Robe, Demetrius and the Gladiators, Ben Hur, Cleopatra – I blame Charlton Heston (who also played Michelangelo in the film version of The Agony and the Ecstasy) for inspiring me to move to Rome from the time I was eight years old. Audrey Hepburn helped, too, in Roman Holiday. It took me till I was twenty-five for it to happen, but I got there!
Disney is largely responsible for my fascination with treehouses – ever since seeing Swiss Family Robinson, and the incredible imagination and engineering that went into that luxury treetop home, I’ve wanted to live in one myself. All I need is the Professor from Gilligan’s Island, and it would be better than a 5-star resort. (This also explains my Pinterest pins.)
More recently, there was Sean Connery in Medicine Man, scaling the rainforest canopy in the Amazon in search of the cure for modern day diseases. Since seeing that movie, I’ve been determined to see what that view from the top of the canopy looks like – and so far I’ve done it twice, the best by far being on an adventure last month in Brazil. (Note, this is definitely no theme park ride, so if you are afraid of heights, stay on Terra Firma.)
Advertising inspired me to choose my career, probably without my even knowing it. Growing up I could sing every radio jingle as if it were a K-Tel top 20 hit, including the ‘Two-all-beef-pattIes-special-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on-a-sesame-seed-bun” chart topper from the 70s. No surprise I ended up working in advertising as a creative director for over 20 years – and I don’t even like Big Macs.
Inspiration is personal and powerful and in many cases, persuasive to the point where it cannot be denied. I find this much more motivating than any fear of running out of time – in fact, I’m still adding to my own Inspiration List, and have no intention of ever stopping.
So, ask yourself, what inspires you to want to do something, and if you haven’t already, consider putting that on your Inspiration List.