One of my top ten favourite words is gumption. See the definition taken from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, below. I believe that it explains why hearing moving music makes me want to pickup a guitar and play, seeing powerful visual art compels me to work on my photography and reading evocative prose fills me with the urge to write. The act of coming into contact with things of quality inspires us to become active participants as opposed to passive viewers.
I like the word “gumption” because it’s so homely and so forlorn and so out of style it looks as if it needs a friend and isn’t likely to reject anyone who comes along. I like it also because it describes exactly what happens to someone who connects with Quality. He gets filled with gumption.
A person filled with gumption doesn’t sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He’s at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes. That’s gumption.
If you’re going to repair a motorcycle, an adequate supply of gumption is the first and most important tool. If you haven’t got that you might as well gather up all the other tools and put them away, because they won’t do you any good.