Here in the south of China, in the province called Guizhou, I have seen many amazing things. This really got me thinking. Where does inspiration really come from? The day before yesterday, I travelled to a small city called Duyun, about forty minutes from where I am currently staying by bus. On the road to this city, moving along an often elevated highway, we passed through many areas of beautiful country. The scenery was astounding, sometimes appearing like something out of fantasy. I had a similar experience when I first arrived here, viewing misty mountains hidden in fog with but the tips of trees peeking out.

I can imagine that artists like Hayao Miyazaki and his staff visited places of similar wonder as they gathered reference material for making a fantasy epic like Princess Mononoke. The location itself visits upon you idea after idea of mystical creatures, magic and hidden treasures. Of course, this doesn't happen only in nature settings. Our purpose for visiting this town was primarily to see the lantern festival, which is a tradition that runs throughout the Chinese new years.

The Lantern Festival in Doyun
While in that town, we visited a park that had been setup for the lantern festival. It seemed, it some respects, more like a light show which even included some carnival style entertainment. There were, of course, endless amazing sites in the festival as well, including an amazingly lit bridge joining the two parts on opposite sides of the river. An artist's imagination can run wild in such a setting.

It is not, however, only the things you see with your eyes that can bring inspiration. It can also come from experiences, particularly the more outstanding things that happen to you in your life. A few days, we took a similar trip to another small town. This time, we were not on a full size bus using the highway. We took something more like a small van along narrow, winding country roads. Once again, one can imagine an artist who experienced such a travel wanting to capture that feeling on film.

One the way back, shortly after we left that town, our van broke down. We were sitting on the side of a little country road in the middle of nowhere. There were a few seemingly abandoned buildings around, but almost no people. I immediately began to imagine bandits riding down the hill to loot the unsuspecting travelers. Luckily, that didn't happen. What actually came down the hill was a herd of goats!

There was a man walking along that road with a large bucket. He began to shake the bucket, rattling the contents inside. This apparently alerted the goats that it was feeding time and they came streaming down the mountain to where he began to throw out, what I guess was some grain, on the ground for them to eat. We all decided to get a good look at them while waiting.

Eventually, another van stopped and gave our driver something in bottles. Maybe it was oil or gas, I don't really know. In order to get back on the road, though, we had to push the van until it was on a downhill slope before it would start again. This worked, and though it soon became dark, we were back on the road. The driver continuously apologized and rather than take us to the bus station, he actually drove us right up to the front gate of our building.

You can't put a price on real experiences. The number of things I have seen and done, since I began my travels, eclipses practically all of my previous experience of adult working life. Inspiration is not likely to strike while sitting in front of a computer or television. It's out there. It is waiting to be experienced.

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