My muse shows up when he damn well pleases, and lately, he has been playing hide-n’ go seek with me. To tell you the truth, I think he’s hiding in my closet right now, under a pile of mismatched socks and an unfortunate pair of BCBG leather studded boots.
(For clarification purposes, I am referring to my muse as a “he” because he has a distinctive male energy about him. Don’t ask.)
If I took my muse’s absence personal, I would be deafened by ugly voices of doubt, the kind that given a chance, would take up residence on my metaphoric front porch and kick in the door. But I know better.
My muse is the yang to my yin, and he doesn’t like to punch a clock. Sometimes, I can entice him with licorce sticks and Captain Crunch. But he is fickle, and like most muses, appears on a whim.
But the joke is on him because my Capricorn rising sign means I’m disciplined and not afraid of hard work. I can wait him out. Sometimes I’ll get a head start on his arrival–like now–and begin playing with words to see if I can make him jealous. It doesn’t always work.
I once heard Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert give a TED talk on creative muses. In her speech she spoke of how ancient Greeks readily believed that muses were entities that provided creative help to artists/writers. Their concept of muses seemed somewhat matter-of-fact: successful artists owed their good work and glory to their talent–and to their muses. The opposite was also true. If the work was panned by critics, everyone knew the artist and muse were equally responsible.
It wasn’t personal.
Gilbert talked about her own work being inspired by her mule-like work ethic and the help of her muse. Her pride came from knowing that even if her muse didn’t show up, she was doing her part…showing up.
Sometimes, showing up is the best we can do. Whether it’s writing a blog, paying our bills, or finishing a less than inspired project at work. Because sometimes, we need to direct the energy, funnel the creative flow ourselves. No matter what the outcome.
During these times, it becomes more about stamina, grace, faith….all the things we fall back on when our energy is depleted of its creativity. These are the things that sustain us when our muse goes on a walkabout.
I’m fine with it; I’ve got a lot of mule in me, too. I work with and without a muse, as you can plainly see. After all of these years, I’m not afraid to airlift in a commando team of new recruits for the job, either. But I know I won’t have to….because as soon as I put the period at the end of the last sentence and hit the “Publish” button, he’ll come a ‘knock’in all sly and smooth, and with a sheepish grin announce, “I’m home.”