Of all the gifts of childhood that we discard when we put on the shabby, overgrown, hand-me-down disguises of adulthood, it is the passionate pursuit of our dreams, through the following of our muse, that is the saddest thing we lose. Nothing is such a quiet assassin of the soul as being made to face the “reality” of life and being forced to give up the gifts we have that others say will not carry us where we want to go.
And in that giving up on our dreams the muse inside us quietly weeps. She knows that something important to happiness has been laid to rest and that something means that she too must begin to die. Over the years, despite her persistence to fuel your creative fires, she fades and shrinks. She becomes a small, quiet voice in the back of your head telling you what you could have done and what you could have been.
But we do not have to let our muses die such needless deaths! We can resurrect them, and in doing so resurrect the dreams and passions that they fueled. There is always time left. They never completely die until you do. But the hard work is bringing them back to life and for that we need instruction!
What is a Muse?
A muse is that inspirational voice that spurns you on towards greater and greater achievement. A muse is not tied to the arts. Your muse might lead you towards entrepreneurship. Your muse might lead you to athletic accomplishment. Your muse might lead you to become the best god-damn juggler the world has ever seen. Whatever. It’s your fucking muse. No one gets to tell you what it is and what it wants you to do. You just have to make sure you can recognize it when you see it.
I ask that you indulge me in my extended metaphor that this article evolves. Most of you know what I mean when I say muse. It is that voice of creative and expressive fervor that gets loud when you are following your passion and things just seem to flow. I also ask that you excuse my use of the pronoun she when I speak of muses. My muse happens to be female, but a muse can be anthropomorphized into any sort of creature or gender that you desire. Once again, your fucking muse, and I am not here to quibble about the specifics of how you imagine its form in your head nor am I insinuating anything about what gender or form muses should take. Disclaimer over and on to the good parts.
Recognize your Muse
The first step in resurrecting your muse is figuring out what it looks like and sounds like inside you. Everyone’s muse is different. Different temperaments. Different skill sets. Different expectations. You need to identify the personality of your muse and seek to creative an internal environment that supports and nurtures it. Only then will it thrive and offer you the direction you ask of it.
I wish I had the “boys in the basement” that author Stephen King has. They seem like the right sort of gruff, hard-working and productively resolute muses that would suit a man of Stephen King’s prolificness. But my muse is pixie like; capricious, delicate, translucent, flippant, foolhardy and borderline reckless. It refuses commitment and is often absent for days on end with nary a word of where she has been when she happens to return. I don’t question her when she comes back. I don’t want to upset her and see her running off again, so I invite her back with arms wide open and let her work her magic.
Why I never refuse her when she comes back is because I want that she should never refuse me as often as she does. So when she bursts through the door, wings all aflutter and golden glimmers of faerie dust sprinkling from her ass end, like a bee with too much nectar, I stop what I am doing and get to the work of loving her, nurturing her and listening to her. I don’t care where she has been, I want what she brings me when she returns.
And when my muse chooses to stay with me for a while, and when I choose to follow her flights of fancy despite the difficulty and danger it occasionally takes, I always end up somewhere that I always wanted to be but never had the sense to find on my own. That is the unexpected joy and occasional misery of life spent with my muse.
But that is just my muse. It will not be the same for you. You have to listen carefully to where your heart pulls you. You have to recognize the deep, passionate expressions you have to give to the world. When you become clear about that, you will recognize your muse – your guide to finding your passion in life. And you will learn how you need to take care of her in order to get the most from your relationship with her.
Whatever far off dreams that you can imagine, they are attached to a way to get there, and that way can be found by following your muse.
Follow Your Muse
If you have a muse, and I think everyone does, never be afraid to follow her when you find her. What do you have inside you that is pulling at your heartstrings? What things stir the waters of your soul? You need to identify them and you need to pull up anchor from wherever you have stopped your journey and let the winds reclaim your sails so that you can once again follow your muse.
Your muse needs you to be alive. Only you can breathe life into her fairy wings and only you can see her floating magic. Follow her boldly, with a courage bordering on recklessness and see where she would have you go. She has a destination. She has your place in mind. She knows the map that can lead you to the dreams and passions that you buried when you grew out of childhood and the adults said you could not carry all of your treasures with you.
She kept them safe for you and wants to take you back there to reclaim them. Follow her.
Protect your Muse
And when you think your muse is safe – when you have found her and followed her and she has led you to all the buried things you lost in yourself – that is when you are going to have to find a way to protect her. Because people are going to try to kill her again.
Some people are never going to be comfortable with the fact that you are being led around by your muse. They do not have a guide of their own to lead them to their gifts or they think that following the flights of fancy that your muse insists is not a proper way to spend your days. So, they have to make sure that every muse they find is quietly and quickly disposed of.
This is when you must stay vigilant and strong. You must not let other people poison the mental waters of hope and discipline that your muse frequently drinks from. You have to keep your head clean and your heart clear, and trust the instinct that following your passion will always be more profitable than following the rules of others.
Share your Muse
There is one final piece to getting the most from your muse and that is the sharing of her. It is not enough that you should be driven to inspiration by your muse. You should seek to be an inspiration to others through the expression of the gifts your muse provides for you. If that is art or business or athletics or whatever, let the expression of your muse be a motivation to the world to also have the courage to follow their own creative voice.
The muses work through us in order to breathe life into the world as a whole. They work towards the greater good for everyone and as such, they are most alive when they are shared with others. By giving the world our unique contributions brought to life by following our muses, we give them a little a little bit of our blood, a little bit of our soul and a little bit of our brilliance. We give the world the meaning to which muses were intended in the first place – a splash of rare and passionate beauty in an otherwise boring and complacent world.