Inspired by Memphis

by C.J. Kirkland

One of my favorite movies begins with a monologue that includes the lines: “Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy but it’s always there…if you look for it I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around.” I realized that if I substituted the word love with inspiration these lines described the way I feel about Memphis. Over the course of three days I discovered that if you look for it, you’ll find that it is all around.
Friday afternoon I made my way down to the old Tennessee Brewery. It is a building that, though vacant for the past sixty years, will bustle with activity for the next six weeks.  A group of friends decided to convert this unused space (which has been threatened for demolition) into a gathering place for food, fun, families and funds for non-profits. They named it Tennessee Brewery Untapped.
A group of friends acted on the notion that an abandoned structure which has been given the death sentence may have some life left in it after all. I was inspired by their example of embracing the castaway, discovering its true potential and carefully excavating the layers of junk that were hiding its true beauty.
Saturday morning I took my son down to the Farmer’s Market. We walked past many vendors whose products were incredibly enticing and very deserving of us stopping for a purchase. But my son seemed to think otherwise and pulled my arm, “guiding” me until we came to an abrupt halt. In front of Pistache Pastry. I beamed with pride, thinking of how all our travels thus far were grooming my young son into a culinary expert- one who understood the value in a well-crafted macaron.
As I mulled over which to take home the owner and I chatted. I was inspired by her story of small beginnings as an Etsy shop, which has now blossomed into a full-fledged business with stores such as Miss Cordelia’s carrying her product. I was inspired that she’s given to Memphis a product just as rich in flavor and presentation such as that found in the bakeries of Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. Because Memphis is just as worthy of fine products and their purveyors as those Big Cities.
In the end she and I both realized my son was actually enamored by the toy chick perched atop her display board. She took it down, handed it to him, and thanked us both for stopping by her table. My son may not yet be a culinary expert but he sure has a knack for pulling us towards inspiration.
We were going to a wedding and I had already envisioned the perfect ensemble for my son. That ensemble included a bow tie. So on Sunday afternoon my quest for the perfect bow tie began. After several failed attempts at the chain retailers I called a friend and she asked, “Haven’t you heard of Mo’s Bows?” Of course I had. Mo’s Bows had been featured in numerous magazines. Mo’s Bows was on Shark Tank. Has anyone in Memphis not heard of Mo’s Bows?! Unfortunately my son wearing a Mo’s Bows bow tie was not to be this time around (I didn’t make it to the store in time). I settled for a department store brand that turned out to be quite nice yet, even as I stood in line to purchase it, could not get my mind off the makings of Mo’s Bows. After being unable to find a product with which he was fully satisfied, a nine year old boy named Moziah began making his own. From his grandmother’s scraps of fabric. I was inspired that a young black boy in the south was permitted to exude his creativity in fashion without scorn and ridicule- at least not by those who mattered most. I was inspired that someone so young had the courage to convince others that something with seemingly no purpose was actually quite purposeful indeed. Not everyone has the insight to see the beauty in that which has been rejected. When a nine year old inspired.
Seems to me that inspiration is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy but it’s always there. If you look for it I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that inspiration actually is all around.
Especially here in Memphis.
C.J. Kirkland is a freelance writer currently based in Memphis, TN.
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