The Muse Within
We strive to cultivate our lives in ways that grow our creative endeavors and honor ourselves just as we are; encouraging our passions and creating good habits is our focus. Messy and undeniably complicated, we can struggle as we try to manage our experiences and limit fallout. It can be challenging to trust our inner selves these days. Not just in terms of making daily decisions and setting priorities, but also as we navigate the unseen and unsuspected.
Life has a way of getting ahead of us, so we plan and choose and grasp at straws until we feel we have life wrangled into a neat and tidy package. Then we relax, exhale, and it all goes to hell. We inhale again; hold our collective breath and realize that maybe we were wrong. Sigh. The moment wasn’t so bad, and we can salvage a good day from the wreckage. Repeat. Never giving our creative mind –our muse, a chance to shine within the daily grind.
The muse within our own minds is a powerful but at times unwieldy part of our soul. According to the Oxford dictionary, a muse is a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist. He or she is as necessary for our growth as human beings as oxygen. Inspiration is a precious commodity right now; sought after like the last roll of toilet paper. Yet we convince ourselves that we don’t have time for frivolous ideas and unproven possibilities. Inspiration is for the future when viruses have vaccines and children learn once again inside brick and mortar buildings.
There’s More to Life than Survival
What is to become of us as we navigate this brave new world of viruses and excessive hand washing with fear and suspicion? Survival can’t be the only goal. We can’t lose track of the prize –a life worth living. Happiness and joy. Living and loving and expressing ourselves is necessary in order to thrive as human beings. From our social media posts to our jobs that require more and more creativity to stand out from the crowd, we search for the holy grail that is our muse. She is fickle as a three year old and as unpredictable as a squall on the ocean.
I strive to nurture my muse through my passions. Allowing her to meander down a seemingly unstructured path, I avoid limits that define her. She must be allowed freedom to roam and constant exposure to new experiences. No worries. No boundaries. She must be free to swear, to giggle and to question. Her birthday is everyday and her deadline is never. She runs with the bulls and splashes freely in puddles, never aging, limitless in her joy.
My wish for you is to find your muse within and rejoice in the opportunity to grow as well. A damn fine filly she will be if you don’t tie her down but give her room to run. She will lead you to a meadow of green grass, run wildly so you know you have raced the wind, and drank from a clear running stream if you allow her to be, just be. This lovely image reminds me of a recent day trip that lifted my heart and inspired my muse.
Life in Montana
Right after our “sheltering in place” orders were lifted in Montana, I visited a friend’s ranch. It spans 80 acres of wild flower meadows and sparsely wooded acreage nestled up against the Mission Mountains. A beautiful spring day greeted us in all its warmth and glory. Much like a big hug – which we desperately needed and couldn’t enjoy yet at the time, we mingled with the horses instead. The worry of social distancing faded with the horses as our only crowd and our only comfort.
But the delightful “aha moment” was that visiting her ranch was the single most inspirational thing I had done for weeks! Even as I drew and wrote, and painted and gardened over these many weeks before, I felt flat. I continued to practice yoga, took long walks, read, and took and shared photos of my walks. But being in the presence of those majestic horses, some with new colts, some young, some pregnant, made me feel renewed and enlightened. I felt one with the universe again, and lifted up as an individual again, alive again. I felt human in a new way. Almost like a rebirth. I was whole.
My muse has been in a bit of a rut since COVID-19 hit, thrusting our country into this pandemic, seemingly overnight. Like the rest of you, I was already tired of being at home, worrying about my health and the health of those I loved. Beginning the process of mask-wearing and enduring the never-ending excessive hand washing seemed daunting. With no end in sight, and frankly the realization setting in that we really were in this for the long haul, I was feeling a heaviness in my soul. I listened and read the words of the worried reporters, saw the concern on the faces of the doctors, government officials and scientists, and my heart sank. I have strived to be a good citizen, supporting social distancing, staying at home, wearing a mask, etc. All the while not realizing that my creativity was taking a big hit. I was closing down inside. I wasn’t protecting and nurturing my muse. Even while trying to reach out online, Zooming in yoga, Zooming my book club, Zooming with my family, writing my posts, supporting my fledgling journaling subscriptions on my blog, my muse was quietly hibernating.
I AM still Creative!
I didn’t realize it at first. This feeling of numbness started to feel somewhat “normal”. Necessity sometimes breeds a sense of purpose and comfort. Doing what we are supposed to do. Helping. Supporting. Being strong and stoic is admired. But it can also be the death of creativity and enlightenment and joy. Our muse needs these things to grow and shine. Our families and our communities and our country need us to protect our humanity. Not let this virus swallow up what is good, and just but also creative and awesome in all of us. Just like our bodies need exercise and healthy food and sunshine, our minds need nourishment too, the light brought by ideas and discussions, brainstorming and creating. Without these infusions, our minds begin to atrophy just like our bodies. Putting our emotional and psychological well-being first is just as important as our physical health. We need to take a breath and realize that what makes us human is what will sustain us through all the fear and uncertainty. Love, joy, creativity, hope, patience, gratitude…to name a few.
When you finish reading today, I want you to grab a piece of paper, even better – a journal, and write. Write about what your life is like right now in the time of COVID-19. Share your thoughts about the lives of your children, what they are going through. Encourage them to write too. Write about the joys, the sorrows you are living right now. Put down into words those frustrations and fears. What can you say about the future and your wishes for 2021? Take some photos of what inspires you; print them off and hang them on the fridge. Draw something; it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. Send it to someone you love, in an envelope, with a cheery stamp and make their day!. Sing a song to your husband or your kids or your dog. Even if they laugh, the experience will nurture and sustain you all. Run and play and kick a ball with a child. Read the article “How to Find Your Inner Muse” by MANAL GHOSAIN.
What to do about it
Do things that inspire your muse to create and grow. And then KEEP doing them. Make a list of things you want to do that aren’t necessary; that you just want to do. And do them. Little things. A walk in the park, growing tomatoes in a pot, trying yoga. Don’t wait for other people to invite you or call you. Invite them. Call them. Send them flowers. Or just do things by yourself. But do them. Don’t wait and don’t complain about boredom or being tired of this “COVID thing”. Instead live. Lots of people are suffering. If you have your health, right now, you are rich beyond measure. Rejoice in what you do have, and what you can do. Be thankful. Be patient. Have hope. Use your imagination. Then when you have spent a week nurturing that muse within, reread this post. And see if I am not spot on with my advice. You can thank me later.