Here's how to notice them.
A faint tap on my window roused my attention. In truth, it made me jump, mostly because the window would not be a window a person on the outside could reach without a ladder.
There, hovering outside the glass like a fairy, was a hummingbird. Its wings were copper-lined from the midafternoon sun. It seemed to want my attention, enough so that I laughed at myself as I sucked in my gut, because of course I was sitting in that person-living-alone slouched-on-the-couch position that no one ever sees.
It appeared she was window shopping. Or perhaps she was seeking knowledge that she would carry along on her way. Or maybe, just maybe she dropped by to deliver a message of some sort. Hummingbirds are, after all, nature’s gossipmongers.
She didn’t stay long, a few, maybe ten, seconds, but long enough that I felt a connection with the little messenger.
There was a researcher at UCLA, Melanie Barboni, who was known as the “hummingbird whisperer.” She developed a kinship with the colorful array of birds that she fed and nurtured every day. Her experience was that they do communicate with us and develop a sense of trust when attention is kind and consistent. They even perched on her hand and ate out of her palm, and when she was late with their feeding they let her know it, chirping and flitting about, even dive-bombing her office until she took heed. It was clear that the exchange of information had taken place and a bond was formed.
It got me thinking about how we pick up our information, what sticks and what doesn't. Some science shows humans have over 6,000 thoughts in a day and in the same timespan our brain receives 34 GBs of information, which is why we must be cognizant of where we focus our attention to capture what's important.
As a writer and an observer of life, I pay attention to the details of a passing moment. Something jumps out at me, separates from the pack of other thoughts, tickling my imagination for a bit until it becomes something more, a little reminder, a higher concept idea, or a nugget that creates meaning that feels like a life throughline.
They sometimes seem obvious, as so often life's little reminders are, but only if we're paying attention.
It was an inkling I received from the hummingbird.
Inklings can also come from a word or phrase, read or spoken, or words overheard in a conversation. The word pops out and starts to percolate in my mind as a possible metaphor for deeper meanings. It could be something I witness that’s out of the ordinary. And, often, it’s in nature.
Or a mishap or disruption occurs, once explored reveals a larger theme that can often lead to a transforming message.
It’s an inkling. An inkling sparks a larger thought. An inkling gives a clue or hints to something bigger. A glimmer. Every grand idea or innovation begins with an inkling.
Inking is defined as “a slight knowledge or vague notion.” Furthering the breakdown of the word, inkling originates from the 16th century, from the Middle English word yngkiling which means “whisper.” And, the word inclen, “to hint at.” And, the word inca means “suspicion.”
The British word inkle, as a verb, means to utter in a hushed undertone.
So, when we get an inkling, it’s the whisper, the hushed undertone of an idea. Isn't that delicious?
It wasn't lost on me that the inkling for this post came from a hummingbird. This blog, Thought Changer, is all about inklings that spark new thoughts or ways of looking at life, that lead to positive change. The artwork in Thought Changer's banner, created by my talented dear friend, Ferrell Marshall, stemmed from the idea that a changing thought begins as an inkling light as a feather and becomes a thought to pass along, to share, to pollinate for change and inspiration.
The idea is to pay attention to the inklings, to nurture them, at home, at play and at work.
Brainstorming is all about inklings. They are a part of the magic that takes place in my work with creative clients. We listen deeply for the whispers inside of the idea, of the work in progress, to discover hidden gems. We follow the inklings. Then, the magic is in the details as the project comes together.
Inklings allow us to expand, grow, create, love, raise our consciousness and share amazing ideas with our world.
My greatest wish for you, dear reader, is that you feel inspired to start noticing your own inklings, listening to their whispers, as you, each day, create your work and a life of meaning.