Chains are an interesting symbol. Because they are forged of several small links, they can represent unity and teamwork. Because they are linear, they can suggest order, whether that be social (The Great Chain of Being) or emotional (The Chain of Screaming).
So that’s why I think there’s also a Chain of Inspiration.
Someone does something. That something inspires someone to do something else. And that inspires someone else, and so on.
The Chain of Inspiration is why, I think, we want to read what are deemed “classics”. It’s why, when we find out that a person we admire admires, we seek to admire it as well. Because no one has a limit on the inspiration they can absorb. They hope to find something that their hero found, and become a hero themselves.
The Chain of Inspiration is why, seven years ago, I bought Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.
This monster of a book is 1000+ pages long, nearly as thick as it is wide. It tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara, a young, stubborn woman in the South during the American Civil War.
I picked it up because I had just finished reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, a book I love dearly. It features two literary works, both of which are praised by the book’s protagonist, Ponyboy Curtis: Robert Frost’s “Nothing gold Can Stay” and Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.
Frost’s poem was easy to read and get access to. Mitchell’s novel is a little more of a challenge. To begin with, my first attempt ended after the third chapter.
The Outsiders set up Gone With The Wind to be about the trials of the American Civil War, and so I imagined something like Catch-22. Instead it’s more like Downton Abbey…if Lady Mary stayed a pain in the ass.
Then again, I’ve only ever made a dent in this book…until now.
This summer I plan on working my way through this book, however painfully slowly it may be. Like I said, it’s a similar set up to Downton Abbey, a show I actually enjoyed, so I think at some level, I’ll find a way to enjoy it.
And who knows? Maybe I’ll find some inspiration in it myself.