The sole purpose of this sentence is to transform this blank page into one with words on it.
Whew! Now the page is not blank and I can move forward. Because, you see, I am alone at the keyboard today. My muse is missing.
At first I didn’t realize she was gone. My corporate day job involves lots of writing and somehow I’ve managed to keep producing it. But when I get home and open my laptop – nothing. Possibly my work writing has overtaxed my muse. Maybe she got bored by the content. All I know is that fun little essays that used to write themselves have been eluding me.
As I struggle through these paragraphs, my husband Ret is softly playing guitar, spontaneous notes he’s never played before, weaving themselves into a beautiful song. He calls upon his muse anywhere, anytime, and she delivers. His talent is as enormous as his spirit, and his music perfumes the background of our life together.
Confession: The guitar he is playing is mine. Good thing, too, because my guitar would die of loneliness without his touch.
Another confession: Sometimes I am jealous.
When I was 12, someone gave me my first guitar, a beat-up acoustic with a bolted-on headstock and the name Pete! proudly painted across the body. I loved that instrument and diligently learned to play chords. I was never very good, but I enjoyed making music – until my parents bought new guitars for Christmas: one for me, and one for my younger sister Lori.
Lori is actually pretty naturally talented. We had great times playing together until her abilities began to surpass mine. Suddenly it wasn’t as much fun. As I entered my teenaged years and the agonies of high school, I wasn’t secure enough as a person to be less than great at something, especially when my kid sister was better. My guitar playing languished and I turned to other creative pursuits.
I’ve always had a modest ability to draw. In high school, a whimsical art muse swept into my life. I sketched faces to my heart’s content and dreamed of becoming an artist. That hope lasted until I took a commercial art class in college. Surrounded by people with stunning talent, reality dawned: If I expected to make a living as an artist, I’d be a starving one. And I like to eat.
Just like that, my sweet little art muse flapped her gossamer wings and disappeared. Every so often, she flits back into my awareness, and at those times, my charcoal pencils come out again. But it never lasts. I think I must be this muse’s moonlighting job.
Or maybe my muse doesn’t like to be compared unfavorably to other people’s muses. Who could blame her? Muses are delightful, happy creatures, playfully bestowing their gifts on grateful recipients. Insecurity, fear and perfectionism probably scare them away.
There’s a passage in the Bhagavad Gita that exhorts the purity of performing an action for its own sake, and not getting attached to the outcome. Lord Shiva says to Arjuna,
“Self-possessed, resolute, act without any thought of results, open to success or failure… This equanimity is yoga.”
In the case at hand, I think this means the joy should come from the writing, drawing and playing itself, not whether it’s good enough, whatever that is.
Many years ago, my mother taught me to be gracious and say thank you when someone gave me a gift. Once again, Mom’s right. Gratitude is always the right response.
My muse is wonderful. She gives me inspiration at work every day. When I’m teaching yoga, she grants me the intuition to somehow know just what my students need. She whispers her approval when I get fun ideas with my home decor, like putting the leopard footstool in front of the little red floral chair, and she gives me great, off-the-wall cooking ideas. And when I am relaxed, receptive and not taking myself so darned seriously, words fly from my fingertips over the keyboard, sketches appear on my tablet and my clunky musical efforts don’t sound half bad.
Ret, honey, I think I need my guitar now. I want to play.