One of my favorite songs is “Harbor Lights,” by Boz Scaggs. If any of you have ever had this experience, you’ll understand. This song resonates so deeply with me that sometimes I tear up just listening to it, it’s that powerful. The song takes me back to the years after college when I lived in Westport, Connecticut. My friends and I used to go down to Compo Beach for clambakes and to enjoy the breeze off Long Island Sound. There would always be lights in the distance and we would sit in the sand with our arms around our knees enjoying the view. More than anything, this song keeps this memory alive for me. I imagined that Boz Scaggs must have been inspired in a similar way in order to write such evocative lyrics.
When I moved to Texas I had the chance to see Boz Scaggs up close in a concert and hear him play Harbor Lights. You can imagine how surprised I was to learn that he wasn’t anywhere near a harbor or even a light when he wrote his song. In fact, he was on a tour bus rambling the dusty back roads of Texas when a song about lights in a harbor tuned into the radio. The words triggered his imagination and he started writing. There wasn’t an ounce of water in sight. He just let his imagination take him there.
I must have mentioned my dismay to my husband several times, how incredulous I was.
“Why are you so surprised?” he said. “That’s what artists do.”
“What do you mean that’s what artists do?”
“They create things out of nothing. It’s not much different when you’re writing a story.”
I thought about Boz Scagg’s experience and my husband’s comment many times since that concert. It’s amazing to me how one small idea can trigger the imagination to something so much greater. That is the artistic experience. There is an artist within every one of us if we’re open to it. Inspiration is the fabric of our everyday lives. There is no need to look further. Artists take us to new places. They lead the way with their vision, imagination, inspiration and talent. Sometimes they expose new ways of living. Because they see what others can’t, they often create new paths and ideas. Whether you visit a museum, a park, the beach, a lake, your own backyard … all you have to do is release your imagination. Your inner artist is sure to come out and play.