You never know what it is that will inspire you – not only as an artist, but as a human being.
I’ve spent the past 16 days being inspired by the bravery of the many Olympians who struggled with injury, with bad calls, with just bad luck, and did so with incredible grace and good will. I will always remember Leonardo Chacun, the Costa Rican cyclist who was knocked out of contention at the beginning of the cyling part of the triathlon by another cyclist falling and bringing him down as well. That cyclist wrote an open letter of gratitude for having run into one of his heroes. He didn’t complain about being knocked out of contention, simply told Simon Whitfield that he was one of his heroes and that he hoped to meet him again at the next Olympics. Now that’s grace.
And I’ve spent the last few days being inspired by Matisse – not Matisse the painter (though I’m often inspired by him), but by Matisse the writer. Like many of the French, he’s a master of the bon mot. The good word, the great quip, the perfect phrase.
I was first, and still am, tempted by this When I started to paint, I was transported into a kind of paradise. This is true for all who aspire to something – whether it be art or sport or life. When we begin what we come to with passion, it is a kind of paradise. We feel as if the world around us is finally right, that the sky lights up for us, that our eyes see, our hearts feel, our bodies strengthen.
It might be that we are meant to be a musician or a painter or a runner. It might be that we are meant to create a great business, or a beautiful home, or simply a wonderful life. Passion is what turns a job into a paradise.
But today I was tempted by I wouldn’t mind turning into a vermilion goldfish. Why? I don’t know how this sentence would sound in French, but in English it’s the rhthym that first drew me in – when I write, the rhythm is always a huge part of the work for me. I fell in love with the word vermilion and know that I’ll use it sometime soon. And then there’s the idea of turning into not just any goldfish, but a vermilion one. A painter wrote that sentence, no question about it.
I’ve put this phrase away. If you keep your eyes open for a while – it might be a week, though it’s much more likely to be a year or two – you’ll see me using part of this as a title. I know I won’t be able to resist.