Do you have a muse? Someone or something that inspires you to create? I guess I do, because it seems that every time I decide to post a photograph, I end up writing. Take today, for example.
I sat here at my desk with the intention of posting a photo of a hummingbird, one I’d seen while out for a walk yesterday. I usually write a few words to go with my photos, so I wondered what I could say about this one.
Before I had a chance to start typing, though, I heard a voice (my muse?) telling me what to write.
“Write a poem,” the voice said.
“About what?” I asked.
“Well, what are you thinking about right now? What are you feeling?”
“Well, duh,” I said. “I’m thinking about the pandemic, what else is there to think about?”
“Okay, but are you sure you want to write about something so intense? Maybe just write a poem about a bird.”
“I have to write about what’s on my mind,” I countered. “Maybe I can work the little bird into the poem somehow.”
“Alright” the voice said, “it’s your blog. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
You see, I’d been lying on the sofa today, feeling a sense of unfocused inertia. I’ve been feeling that way on and off for the last couple of days. Have you been feeling that way, too?
For the past month, I’ve been busy doing things like working from home, writing, making masks, talking to friends, figuring out how to safely get food, and, of course, watching Netflix. I’m not a total nerd. But I’ve also been glued to the news, and that’s okay, because I want to know what’s going on. I think it’s important that we stay on top of things. But sometimes I try to do too much, and then it seems as if my brain just shuts down and all I can do is crossword puzzles. And that’s okay, too.
Anyway, I was feeling very foggy-brained and distracted by (a) my phone, (b) a crossword puzzle, (c) my Spanish flashcards, and (d) thoughts about the pandemic. (The correct answer is all of the above.) I had just told myself to focus on only one thing at a time when I got up to get something (I forget what) and I found myself sitting here at the computer. I know, I probably need
meds more wine.
And while I’d been on the couch, I kept thinking about something Billy Collins said recently in one of his live-from-home poetry talks. In speaking about social isolation, he said we’re living under a “futureless condition,” not knowing how long this situation will last or what life will be like afterwards. He compared it to being in 4th grade, where the only future you can imagine is “5th grade.” I thought that was a great description of how I’ve been feeling. And again, it’s okay to feel that way. I guess another way to describe it is how Bob Dylan would have put it: “no direction home.”
Then I looked at my little bird photo through the “futureless condition” lens, and I could imagine how that bird must feel, clinging to a tiny branch, swaying in the breeze, not sure why he was there or where he would be heading to next. And I knew I wanted to try and put all of those thoughts and feelings and images into a poem.
I did write the poem, but I have no idea whether it’s “any good,” so I’m going to let it steep for a while before I publish it. Meanwhile, here’s my little muse, the light little bird that inspired all this heavy thinking today.
And before you go, if the spirit grabs you, don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know how you’re doing. Do you have a muse?
2 thoughts on “Do You Have a Muse?”
Lovely photo. And a beautifully written description of how so many of us are feeling. I love the analogy of the 4th grader. You “sort of” know what the next grade will be, but not really, until you get there. Perfect description of our current season.
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Thank you, Kathy. Billy Collins never ceases to inspire me.