“Sing, Oh Muse, the rage of Achilles…”
So Zeus and Mnemosyne hook up for nine days. She ends up giving birth to nine goddess spirits that hang around Mt. Olympus and do a lot of cool stuff. They inspire the mortals, namely. They’re the poet’s light. The historian’s scroll. The sudden song in a heart. They’re the good stuff. But they’re selective. Not everyone hears the Muses. Homer heard them. So did Shelley. Byron probably thought he was shagging Muses on a regular basis. But the bottom line was that Muses inspired action and feelings and creativity in people that was otherworldly. Back in the day, if a poet thought of a poem then he’d thank the Muses. If a musician found the perfect composition then the Muses probably had something to do with it. Elevated emotions, artistically, were chalked up to the Muses. Things beyond humanity’s hum drum were the product of the Muses.
It’s a terrific notion–that some people are hand selected to write that brilliant verse, sing that perfect song, love that perfect love. It makes us all so much less accountable for the doldrums. For the inaction. For complacence. For the routine. Folks start saying that they’re “just living” or worse, deride themselves with “living’ the dream…” or “another day in paradise.” Of course each of these self-depricating comments implies a better reality that’s not theirs. A reality filled with distant mad passion, consuming songs, richer existence.
“Oh Sing of Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things…” I like that line a lot more. For us mortals inspiration happens when people bridge the gap between fear and action. That gap, filled will all of those excuses (I can’t write, my love isn’t perfect, my job blows) is the distance between the Inspired and the Discouraged (dis-courage). But for most of us there’s no reason to let that gap grow any wider any longer. Waiting on the Muses won’t bridge the gap. Work, action, risks, chances, failures (plenty of them), and trying again ignite the daily inspirations that help us look back on a day or look forward to tomorrow with anticipation rather than anxiety. It’s work, this business of inspiration. I think Hemingway said it best: “There’s nothing to writing. You just sit at a typewriter and bleed.”
So forget the Muses. You are your own Muse if you listen to your song and do something about it.