Thursday, July 31, 2014

Where should we have our thanks? (Hamlet 5. 2. 320)

When an idea flickers and begs to become flesh, where should we have our thanks? (Hamlet 5. 2. 320)

When a word that you rarely use or hear used springs forth unbidden, where should we have our thanks? (Hamlet 5. 2. 320)

When flickers calls to flesh and the First Ambassador’s question haunts idle thoughts, where should we have our thanks? (Hamlet 5. 2. 320)

That is a notion taken up in a fascinating audio essay, “Me, Myself, and Muse,” a program I was privileged to hear while driving roads I’ve driven many times. The essay revived me; it pulled the wax from my ears so I could listen to the Siren’s call, and I was alive to it, the skies, and small blossoms dancing in the blast of my auto passing. Cue it up right now, and listen, all ye who write!

Oliver Sacks, one of the fascinating people interviewed, once wrote his name in the Finite Book, vowing to take his own life if he didn’t finish a book he’d wrestled with for too long. His self-imposed deadline worked. The book seemed to write itself when--or was it because--he threatened his other self, the writing self with death.

Rainbow Over the Ozarks
Al Griffin Photography

Elizabeth Gilbert made no such vow, but she’s familiar with creation, with writing blocks, with the wraith that exists in the ether, one that some call the Muse. Inspiration, creativity, and ideas are available for the plucking, she believes--if we allow ourselves to be their vessel.

Gilbert learned from Tom Waits, known for talking to his music as he creates it. Some songs must be sweet-talked, but others desire a bit of bullying in order to exit the birth canal. Now Gilbert speaks to the Muse as well. In fact, the title of her wildly popular novel, Eat, Pray, Love, was delivered unto her after she appealed to it, explaining that she could not sift through all the truths to glean a title; she needed the gift of a title and on the day after her appeal, the title streamed into her consciousness.

So where should we have our thanks? From ourselves! Once we believe in the possibility of our own gift, we give it life. Believe and talk to your gift. Ask it to take your hand and write.

Reading Challenge:

Listen to the Radio Lab’s story, “Me, Myself, and Muse.”

Writing Challenge:

Compose a letter or prayer to the Muse. Ask for help with a specific writing challenge.