Inspiration: The Spice of Life’s Work

by Atim Annette Oton

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” – Mark Twain

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” ― Albert Einstein

“In life, finding a voice is speaking and living the truth. Each of you is an original. Each of you has a distinctive voice. When you find it, your story will be told. You will be heard.” ― John Grisham

Since 2008, life has changed for everybody, most especially. There is no normal. There is no stability. Things have shifted, but I believe and see that there is re-invention. This re-invention involves acceptance of the past and changing the now for the future. To do this, one place I start is Inspiration.


What inspires you? What makes you buzz? What brings you sheer bliss, passion and joy? My candid response is life. I am a designer and entrepreneur in the mid stage of my life and career so I often look backwards to understand what and where I have been, then take the present to organize so I can look ahead to gain perspective for the future. And that is why I can succinct say life gives me buzz. It is my inspiration. Life is about people, places and things. They fill and nurture me with passion, laughter and joy. Each inspires me.

“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities. – J. K Rowling

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”  – Lauren Oliver


I am fascinated by people in all their eccentricities, this is why when I observe people I am looking for love, passion, joy and happiness, firstly, then I look to understand its parts in all its simplicities and complexities.


“Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that’s what makes you strong.” ― Sarah Dessen 

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” ― E. E. Cummings


I am fascinated about places. They thrill me unconditionally. Cairo makes me miss the dry desert heat of Africa. Dakar keeps me cosmopolitan and French-African, Budapest and Prague humble me with eclectic beauty in its architecture. And now, I must say, I miss the London of the 1990’s, the Lagos pre-1980’s and the Kano and Jos that were my adopted northern cities in Nigeria.

Places I have been to, lived in, visited for a time and dreamed about make Life my inspiration. They make me smile, laugh and cry sometimes. They define the notion of being alive and living.  Life is fantastic.

Places and cities inspire me poetically. I remember Barcelona just post-Olympics and bask in the Florence sun before I head to Fez. From the city to the African Savannah of my youth, I am inspired by places of travels and dreams. From Vietnam to India, I celebrate similarities and subtle differences. Places speak a language of nature and architecture. They tell stories in the quiet and loud corners.  Places are my spaces of inspiration.


“Without music, life would be a mistake.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Life is about poetry. Life is about music. Life is about food. Each thing inspires me. It feeds my soul. I love objects that are handmade, there are some of things that make me sing. Books are things that inspire me. I am biased to poetry than prose sometimes. I see it in the words of T. S. Eliot or Wole Soyinka. Music is another inspiration point. Whether it is Sade, Fela, Coltrane and Miles. Each is an inspiration and make life bliss.


I am fascinated by food. So I have eaten snails, frog legs and octopus. Life is about risk, taking chances and in food, I relish the experience. For every city I have visited, I have eaten the food with gusto, and for every immigrant I have met, I have joined them for their local food. Food inspires my curiousity, it invites me to taste and savor a new flavor whether hot, spicy or creamy, I take a bite.


3 responses to “Inspiration: The Spice of Life’s Work”

  1. Very interesting words.


  3. […] Atim:  The three big inspirations are People, Places and Things because they embody Creativity, Joy, Openness and Curiosity; the other two are my energy pills: Travel and Food. In people and places, the diversity, variety and sheer brilliance of people and places. In things, I would say – poetry, music and books. Might be best to read my blog on Inspiration: […]

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