Hungry Muse, Naughty Muse

I yearn to create writing that is imaginative, playful, honest, and luscious — and to do so on a consistent basis. Writing is not only an emotional outlet, it is a reflection of who I am. It serves as documentation of the interconnected processes of self-exploration and transformation which I continually experience. It is an exhumation and selfless giving of the most special, sacred spaces in my heart. Writing is what makes me come alive, and in turn it gives life to ideas that hopefully inspire others in unique and meaningful ways.

At one time, I barely wrote anything for about four months. I was depleted, uninspired, and exhausted. My life felt heavy and stagnant. I was unable to produce anything of merit, anything worth sharing, anything worth reading. The less I wrote, the less I wrote. I was sucked into a downward repressive spiral from which emergence seemed more and more impossible. Was this it? Was there nothing more to say? Was I all but gone?

There was a lot going on my life at the time, and as a highly sensitive person I am often unable to filter out certain types of difficult experiences. I absorb them, ruminate, and internalize other people’s insecurities. Eventually my despair serves a purpose — connecting me with greater awareness and understanding, and illuminating new insights. This lengthy and difficult process is necessary for my spiritual awakening. But I could have been writing to help me make sense of those experiences along the way.

When I get stuck, it is usually because my naughty, naughty inner muse is assisting me in this self-sabotage. And like unruly children who are neglected and unfed, that naughtiness comes from a lack of attention and nurturance which renders her incapable of engaging in a creative relationship with me. When I feed my inner muse, she astonishes me with her support and tender loving care; In other words, I am better able to invoke passion and love through the written word when I take care of myself and indulge my desires — regardless of how often I stare at a blank piece of paper or screen. Because my writing is so deeply connected to, and a part of, me — I need to be well in order to write well.

There are certain special things I like to do to feed my inner muse, like immersing myself in sunshine, bubble baths, ocean waves, and spectacular music, eating ripe peaches at the height of summer, and traveling to previously unfamiliar places. Daily rituals, like meditation and physical movement, also fill her heart with joy. I can also approach every moment with openness, wonder, and curiosity and engage with the world as my playground, rather than a battlefield. Neglect her, leave her hungry, and naughty girl will once again emerge. At every moment, I need to treat her, my most wise and beautiful inner self, with lovingkindness so she, and my writing, may flourish.

40 for 40

A few months ago, a friend and I decided that we would do 40 extraordinary things to celebrate our 40th birthdays. Mine is coming up in a few months, and I have already started to do things that I might otherwise have been too timid, financially or time restricted, or otherwise hesitant to do. I am diving deep into all of those things that have been cast aside for someday as the somedays of my life slowly dwindle in size. Every Friday for the next 40 weeks, I am going to write about one of the 40 new things I intentionally chose to experience as a part of this endeavor. And I am also intentionally choosing to continue this tradition, only increasing the number of new things I will do to match the number of years in my life. When I turn 53, I shall need to do more than one thing per week!

Carpe Diem

People have been seizing the day since Horace offered this delicious phrase to the world in 23 BCE. Yet over time, we intuitively fall into a flow of anticipating the cycles of seasons and days. Habits are established. Life loses its pristine novelty, too often without capturing our notice.

I sometimes wonder, worry really, if I have fallen into an intermittent willful resignation. My life sometimes feels pre-scripted. Other times, it feels like a play I have repeatedly seen. Sure, I uncover additional nuance with each performance, every viewing, but there are empty seats awaiting me in the theatre down the street — not to mention across the country and around the world.

About eight years ago, a psychologist told me that I was bored because I had adopted a conventional life, one that contrasted greatly with that of my past. Being able to manage my emotions and behavior to achieve my life goals, even to maintain stability in my life, has been useful. But sometimes it just isn’t enough. It doesn’t fulfill and excite me. I feel dull, numb, and nearly half dead at times.

For me, there is a constant tension between carefully controlling my life so that I am able to function and fully living in, and appreciating, the moment as it occurs. Perhaps everyone experiences this phenomenon, but my loss of control could potentially be destructive, devastating, and disastrous. I suppose this is true for most people, to one degree or another.

Learning to reconcile this tension in a healthy way, and to live a naturally integrated, complete life is an ongoing process. With time, I continually discover my own cycles and rhythms to complement the harmony I wish to create in my life. There are no shortcuts to realizing authentic wholeness, and with both patience and practice the moments I feel that level of connection — with myself and the planet — will surely grow in both frequency and duration.

Excuse My Vulgarity

I recently met someone whose perception of the proper intersection of authenticity and propriety was skewed slightly differently than mine — especially when making a first impression. Call me old-fashioned, but I think there is a civility, and a tenderness, to using discretion when sharing the most banal and vulgar aspects of ourselves with new acquaintances. If I have offended anyone in this way, and I’m sure that I have, then please accept my apology.

That is not to say that deception ought to be employed. Nor should positioning and manipulation.

Rather, we should slowly and softly reveal ourselves. I long for the mystery and intimacy of gently unveiling our complexities, an art form which has sadly become scarce in modern society. I would rather lie awake at night, curiously anticipating more, than bend over the proverbial toilet proverbially puking because too much has been revealed much too soon.

Excuse my banal vulgarity.

Procrastination

My life has been a series of unfinished projects. Yes, I have seen many books, reports, home repairs, and other projects to their bittersweet end, and it would probably surprise most people that I suffer this perhaps self-imposed impediment. But there are many more, thousands more, that remain submerged inside of me.

Some of them are in bits and pieces, swirling about, searching for the perfect moment of emergence. Others are already complete, inside of my head, but have not yet started the journey to the outside world. Yet others have been spewed out — here, there, and everywhere — but have not yet been brought together into a final masterpiece. My unfinished projects are toys in the box, lonely and neglected, yearning for a playmate to make them come alive and have more than a symbolic meaning.

I tend to be good at starting things, but not finishing them. I once worked with a man who was good at finishing things, but not getting them started. We were the perfect (working) pair.

I have tried to organize my projects with index cards, notebooks, two different types of note software, file folders (both electronic and hard copy), websites, spreadsheets, three ring binders, sticky notes, and posterboard. I’m sure I’m missing something. And don’t even get me started on the calendars.

Perhaps it is subtle self-sabotage. Maybe it’s ADHD, mostly but not entirely without the H. Or it could be my vain and fickle heart that chases one dream after another. Possibly a fear of failure? Bashfulness?

Whatever it is, I have enjoyed the creative journey of generating ideas, whether or not they are shared and brought to fruition. The unfinished, and even the unstarted, project carries with it the allure of what might be. As long as it doesn’t cross over into the regret of what could have been, a certain amount of disorganized procrastination may be healthy. It serves as a reminder that creativity is a generative, rather than a depleting process, and that the process itself is what really counts, most of the time.