Our associations with the notion of inspiration are more fiction than fact, made evident by the familiar image of depressed and disheveled artist waiting for the lightning to strike. This interpretation puts control into the hands of the gods, leaving mortals to kick the dust in waiting, hoping for a touch of greatness handed down from on high. Depressing indeed.

Evidence to the contrary is in the daily lives of optimistic and passionate people. As opposed to being a passive conduit, many are simply doing the work—maintaining dedication and practicing their craft, whether they are producing quality work or not. They absorb a variety of mediums, theories and conversations that relate to their passion. They put in hours for the sake of the process, revelling in small challenges and victories. It’s an academic working nose to paper against the muffled sounds of a timeworn library. It’s a pair of kids building dirt jumps, pedalling to feel that weightless drift, the wind on their faces one last time before the sun sets.

It’s true, you never know where inspiration will come from, but if you are actively living with curiosity, a willing heart and an open mind, your time is never wasted. If luck favours the prepared, inspiration favours the engaged. We might not be able to control exactly when the lighting strikes, but we can fill our field with as many rods as possible.

If we speak of inspiration without mention of the end result, the concept loses meaning. Inspiration without action is spindrift on the wind—beautiful to witness but ultimately useless. If you ski, you’re a skier. If you write, you’re a writer. If you love, you’re a lover. If you sit idle, you’re harder to define.

You can be inspired to work, to try, to change or to start over. The one constant of inspiration is that it guides you toward your true self. The lighthearted sister of instinct, it can’t exist externally because it reflects your innermost desires. It’s not easy to knuckle down in the face of self-doubt, to practice and work, to search and to question, but it sure as hell beats waiting.

As the winter season progresses, you may feel that electric force, that sought after impulse that propels you to choose possibility over hesitation. It’s difficult to predict and impossible to manufacture. The more important question is whether you choose to act when that sacred current runs through you.