I’ve been coping with my muse(s) for years. I’m not certain how many I have. I may have one muse with shape-shifting skills and multiple personalities, or a horde with very distinct skill sets and ideas. I suspect my muses are both of these ideas.
Muse(s) can be fickle. Having employed some mechanisms that helped me get along with my muse(s), I thought I’d compile some brief, general guidelines. These are recorded to help me in the future, but since I’m typing them up, I thought sharing them might help others when they’re dealing with their muse(s).
- Shelter your muse(s) like kittens, puppies, kits, and fledglings. They’re cute, tender, and impressionable, and need to be fed, protected, and nurtured. They depend on you for everything.
- It helps to act like you’re handling a fourteenth-century Ming dynasty vase when you’re conversing with your muse(s). They’re rare, fragile, and irreplaceable.
- Regard your muse(s) like they’re famous geniuses such as William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Stephen Hawking, Jackson Pollock, Maya Angelou, or Frank Lloyd Wright. They have a lot to offer, and you should pay attention.
- Behave with your muse(s) as you would with family that you enjoy having around, and respect and interact with your muse(s) as you do with family that you must love because they’re family, but you have no idea why they do the things that they do.
- Follow your muse(s) like they’re a famous performer, like Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Beyonce, or Kanye West, or a movie star like Jimmy Stewart, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Dwight Johnson, Jerry Lewis, Casey Affleck, or Bruce Campbell.
- Care for your muse(s) like a favorite elderly pet who seems to be fading.
- Obey your muse(s) like you’re a child and they’re your parent(s).
- Nurture, protect, and teach your muse(s) like you’re their parent(s) and they’re your child, perhaps a two-year-old, or a sixteen-year-old. They could be both from moment to moment. Part of the fun is understanding which one they are.
- Interact with your muse(s) like they’ve been convicted of being a serial killer who escaped from prison and is standing in your bedroom.
- React to your muse(s) like they’re the monsters under your bed. You’re not sure if they’re real, but you keep hearing noises, and it’s really, really dark.
- Embrace your muse(s) like a bolt of lightning during a thunderstorm. It can be painful and illuminating, but rewarding, if you survive.
- Finally, have fun with your muse(s). Pretend that you’re all celebrating graduating high-school and becoming an adult by getting drunk.
Employing these simple strategies have rewarded me with the same sort of wonderful relationship that I have with a stranger that I bump into at a parade. With a little observation and effort, you can have the same kind of relationship.
So I said, “I’ll take my clothes off, if you do.” And I did without waiting for the other to respond.
It was a nebulous, quicksilver dream. My dream doesn’t have markers but that part happened deep into it. To begin, I was visiting a think tank. Don’t think of Rand Corp or anything, think small, barely funded radicals with computers and ideas. They were an interesting group of mostly young men and women who were interested in ideas and data. I have just met them. I’m a visitor. It’s a little awkward. I’m not socially graceful, and neither are they.
I don’t remember much of the conversations. Flashes come back to me, like, “She has the network firewalled to limit exposure to outside events so that our thinking won’t become polluted or maligned.” I said back, “I can connect you to the outside world through my laptop.” This was declined, but we went back and forth about whether I would be able to do what I claimed, the philosophy behind the firewall, and the perceived advantages and disadvantages.
But many conversations were going on with people coming and going. As that conversation rolled, another was taken up about Derrick’s study. Becoming interested in what was being said, I wanted to see Derrick’s study. Then it was mentioned that Derrick — a morose looking white fellow with a mop of dark hair in jeans and a pullover — always did his data collecting in the nude. That’s when I made my offer as part of an effort to cajole the data out of Derrick. Derrick does not take his clothes off. He seems like a downer to be around. The whole group is like that.
Later, I’m nude.
I feel a little self-aware and conspicuous, but nobody is paying my nudity much mind. Someone else is going to share Derrick’s data. We all go down to another room where a slide show is presented. I’m fascinated, but others drift away. New projects are offered and discussed. I’m engaging with others about their projects. Some projects are about diet habits. One in particular, led by a woman, interests me more. I’m enlisted into working on it. About to go out to collect data after volunteering to do that, I joke, “But first I’ll dress.” Standing up, I pull on my pants. Nobody laughs.
Strange group, I think. Fade out.
A new chapter of wildfires and smoke has burned into September. You may have heard about this one, the Delta Fire, closing off Interstate 5 in California.
As the smoke smeared the sky, its influences skewed my streams. I found myself mumbling the lyrics to The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army” (2002) as I trudged along and damned the smoke and fires.
It’s the second verse that I mumbled sang:
Don’t wanna hear about it
Every single one’s got a story to tell
Everyone knows about it
From the Queen of England to the hounds of hell
And if I catch it comin’ back my way
I’m gonna serve it to you
And that ain’t what you want to hear
But that’s what I’ll do
I was prompted by thinking, what’s the point of complaining about this? Nations and civilizations emerge and crash in a cycle as big as an ice age. Within the cycles are stories of desperation, struggle, hope and survival. Many stories are far worse than mine, and often hidden from view. Hence, I mumble sang, “Don’t wanna hear about it. Every sing one’s got a story to tell.”