Wonderful Inspiration

by Bob Schwartz

The word inspiration is lovely and wonderful. Especially if you are involved in breathing as a practice, which is everybody, or in being inspired or inspiring.

Breathing is good. So is that thing when you hear something or read something or see something and you sense something happening in you and to you.

Some etymology notes from the Oxford dictionary:

Middle English enspire, from Old French inspirer, from Latin inspirare ‘breathe or blow into’, from in- ‘into’ + spirare ‘breathe’. The word was originally used of a divine or supernatural being, in the sense ‘impart a truth or idea to someone’.

Our word spirit is based on Latin spiritus ‘breath or spirit’, from spirare ‘to breathe’—the ancient Romans believed that the human soul had been ‘breathed’ into the body—the image is the same as ‘the breath of life’. The sense ‘strong distilled alcoholic drink’ comes from the use in alchemy of spirit to mean ‘a liquid essence extracted from some substance’….Spirare forms the basis of numerous English words including aspire (mid 16th century) from adspirare ‘to breath upon, seek to reach’; conspire (Late Middle English) from conspirare ‘to breath together, agree’; expire (late 16th century) ‘to breath out’; inspire (Late Middle English) ‘breath into’ from the idea that a divine or outside power has inspired you; and perspire (mid 17th century) ‘to breath through’; and transpire (Late Middle English) ‘breath across. In English spirit was shortened to sprite (Middle English) which in turn developed sprightly (late 16th century).

So at least three big ideas are related that might not seem so. Breathing, spirit and inspiration. Add to that aspire, conspire, transpire, expire and most fun of all, sprites, and you have an entire family.

You have hopefully had those moments of inspiration. Sometimes it seems literally to go to your head, propelling your mind to places it hasn’t been. It may also skip your mind entirely, going straight someplace inside that lifts you, like a filled balloon, though that’s not quite it either. Maybe it’s more like a good clear fresh breath gently filling your lungs. What, of all riches, could be more immediately real and inspiring?