Lens-Artists Challenge #160: Your Inspiration

Beach people, Pawleys Island, SC

In quoting Agnes Martin, Patti Moed “pinpoints two key elements of inspiration–the quality of light in a place and our feelings at that moment” and invites us to share something that inspires us.

And it was that phrase “the quality of light” that brought me to a source of inspiration that those of you who follow Oh, the Places We See have picked up on: I LOVE morning on the beach.

Inspiration is that state in which mind and heart are connected.

Deepak Chopra
Facing the sun, South End, Pawleys Island, SC
Houses on the South End, Pawleys Island, greet the morning sun.

Because we’ve been going to Pawleys Island, South Carolina — same beach, different rentals — for over 40 years, mornings during our week in the summer have been a strong source of inspiration, thought, and planning for a long, long time. As an educator, I used summertime to rethink and repurpose some of what I had done as a classroom teacher, and it was that thinking that inspired me to plan for the coming year and recharge my bank of creative energy.

Early morning — even before sunrise — became my quiet time as I joined the few people who walked their dogs, looked for shells, or just pulled up beach chairs for God’s morning surprise.

Beach walker, Pawleys Island SC
Walking the beach, early morning at Pawleys.

At times, I couldn’t tell the exact location of the sunrise. Clouds and mist covered the sky. But I found the wait to be the part of the joy, the anticipation of a new day, a new school year, and a new me, in some cases.

Before sunrise Pawleys Island SC
Trying to rise, the sun contends with clouds this summer morning.
First glimpse of sunrise, Pawleys Island SC
Barely there, but moving upward: the sun eeks out a place in the sky.
Sunrise with clouds Pawleys Island SC
Finally winning the right to shine, the sun pushes (well, almost) through the clouds.

And it was in these early-morning moments that I planned new ways of introducing books I’d taught for years — The Scarlet Letter, The Crucible, The Great Gatsby, Grapes of Wrath — in new ways, as I tried to relate old ideas to modern times and share how today’s issues are surprisingly similar yet different from those shared in the classics.

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.

Victor Hugo
Sunrise from behind clouds, Pawleys Island SC
Worth the wait: a beautiful sunrise and reflection at Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

Today, retired as I am now, I still love getting up before dawn, carrying my coffee and camera with me, and standing on the beach. I’m no longer waiting for the inspiration to teach, but I am still trying to figure out how life works, what my place is, and how I can contribute meaningfully to making the world a better place.

And, no surprise here, the beach is still a lovely place to be inspired!

Just before dawn, Pawleys Island SC
Joining me each morning as we anticipate sunrise: the birds of Pawleys Island.

For more entries in this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #160: Your Inspiration, check out Patti’s blog and the responses below.

And if you’re so inclined, leave me a message. I’d love to know what inspires you — naturally or otherwise!

Travel with inspiration in mind,


28 thoughts on “Lens-Artists Challenge #160: Your Inspiration

  1. Greenglobaltrek

    Rusha, I really enjoyed your beautiful tranquil sunrise photos and description of your time on the beach and how you used the moments of total quiet for so much inspiration over the years. Nature definitely has that capacity to calm the noise and leave space for conscious creativity!

    I’m not a morning person so getting up at that hour would’ve wonderful but exhausting for me … although on those occasions of being jet lagged I’ve enjoyed some beautiful sunrises in some wonderful locations.

    Lovely post!

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      Sometimes it’s exhausting fir me as well, but the sunrise is reward enough. The night, however us a challenge tor me. Too many times I’ve fallen asleep in the sofa with all good intentions of reading or watching a movie!!!

  2. kzmcb

    I love sunrise and sunset. They are my spiritual times, though. I’m inspired by other people, including you and Bert. The things you have done, the way you see the world. I, too, am now a retired educator, and maybe that common thread weaves us in the same blanket of humanity. I get you, and am challenged to live better because of you. You’re a great find.

    1. Oh, the Places We See

      You’ve made my day. I do admit that this week, the first week of school in Knoxvilke, has been hard for me. I miss the first days and meeting new students. Just not sure I gave the endurance it takes, though.

  3. Tina Schell

    What a beautiful post Rusha – not just the glorious sunrise(s) but the way you approach the meaning of life and how to make the most of it. Excellent response!

  4. pattimoed

    Gorgeous post, Rusha. Wonderful light! I am like you–the beach inspires me as well as the light. I just re-read The Great Gatsby a few months ago and it is still as fresh and as “relevant” today as it was when I was in high school. We should compare our reading lists! What are you reading now?

  5. Toonsarah

    I’m an early bird and would love to spend some time on that beautiful beach, waiting for the sun to rise and soaking up the special atmosphere of being close to the sea. Thank you for sharing 🙂

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