I haven’t written anything for about a week now. I guess it would be truer to say that I have not been able to write anything during this time. Some people call this “writer’s block”. I like to think that my Muse needs a rest or a vacation now and then.
There are several different schools of thought on this matter. There are those who think that if you are a writer (or painter, or any other type of creative person), you should just blast through the block, force yourself to write something (or paint, or whatever), get something going. Others think that this is not natural and that if the creativity doesn’t flow, then leave it alone.
I happen to be of the second opinion. Even though it is frustrating for me to come to the end of a day with itchy fingers but nothing running around in my head, my heart, or my soul, I think it is right (for me) to wait until the Muse decides to come home from her vacation, opens her suitcases, and spills out whatever treasures she brings home to share with me.
I guess I need to clarify here that it’s not that my mind has been totally blank. I know I still have a writing to do about the glorious Cowboys game that we experienced in Tampa a few weeks ago (even though they weren’t so glorious against Denver last weekend!). To be noted that there’s another posting about “mentors” that’s creating waves in my heart. And my soul is contentedly nurturing a whole juicy article abut Zhanra’s, a restaurant in St. Augustine that is fast becoming my favorite Sunday brunch spot.
What happens for me, I think, is that my Muse needs head, heart, and soul lined up in some sort of synchronicity. They all need to be on the same page (no pun intended!), singing along in harmonious arcapella. And then, of course, I have that devious little fellow, de-pression, who hovers out in left field waiting to strike me out.
Yesterday, however, Rich and I drove up to north western Georgia with some friends. We are sharing a weekend with them in a gorgeous log cabin in the mountains. My heart and soul are both jumping for joy and sitting in serenity. Just to be in the mountains after living in the Florid flatlands is a gift from God. My soul is very connected to rocks and mountains.
As well as the mountains, we are also surrounded by woodlands that are made up of more than pine trees. (Trees are the next soul connection after mountains for me.) It is early Fall and the colors are creeping into the leaves. As I look out over the wrap-around porch that I am sitting on there are lovely shades of yellow and bronze with some soft deep pinks and russet reds here and there.
Just below the cabin there is a small lake and to one side of us I can hear the running waters of a creek that feeds into the lake. Birds are singing all around us and the squirrels are having such fun scampering up and down and in and out of the trees. From where I am sitting I can see three large squirrel nests.
As the evening closed in yesterday we lit a log fire in the outdoor fireplace on the porch. The night was still, the fire crackled, and all around us were the sounds of the night. Crickets and other insects formed the string section of the orchestra. Various frogs tuned up their woodwind instruments, and some unknown creature of the dark provided a strange soft trilling sound.
When the sky darkened into full night we were treated to a magnificent starry display. We are far from any major town so city lights did not spoil the effect of God’s night-time creation. As we gazed up we realized we were seeing the Milky Way and there were a gazillion other stars up there. I saw three shooting stars, one that was big and bright and seemed to cross the whole heavens on its journey to extinction. And I was reminded of another night, another starry sky in Umbria, Italy many years ago.
And as I sat and bathed in the beauty of it all, I felt a subtle internal shift. I knew that Muse was on her way home and that soon my itchy fingers would be flying across the keyboard. I am grateful for her return and, as if to confirm her presence with me right now, a watery sun is dappling through the trees to bathe me in a soft morning glow.
No, I’m not going to do an Albert Einstein. I do not have that kind of analytical and scientific mind. But it struck me that any given situation will probably be viewed differently by each person involved in it. I just have to think about any normal, every day conversation between myself and my husband and how we sometimes struggle to understand exactly what the other is saying – and we’re both speaking English, and are relatively on the same page!
Just recently I read a phrase that really caught my attention. It said something like, “A mistake is just another way of doing something.” Yesterday I read another phrase which said, “A weed is no more than a flower in disguise.” And they both carry the same message as the old proverb, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”
I remember participating in a workshop some years ago. There were various projects and activities that we engaged in during the course of the workshop. One that I will always remember went something like this. We re-entered the classroom after a short break and in the middle of the chalk board was the word “track”.
The instructor asked us to just focus on that one word. Then she asked us not to talk among ourselves and to write a sentence using that word. As I recall, there were about twenty to twenty five of us in the class. There may have been a handful of sentences written that were similar. The rest were completely unique, each offering a different meaning and use of the word.
I’m sure that this creates problems from time to time. Going back to my husband and I, I can think of a few times when the discussion has become somewhat heated simply because of two completely different perspectives, understandings of, one word or phrase. (We’re probably not a good example because I’m British and he’s American, so the language barrier in and of itself sometimes is a bit of a beast!!!)
But different perspectives can also bring wonderful variety to our lives. Just think of art and architecture, and what about music? All the unique styles created by different people enrich our lives in all those areas. I absolutely love Modigliani and Monet and yet they create works at opposite ends of the spectrum. As do Degas and Dali and yet both have produced works of exquisite beauty.
I cannot imagine life without the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. But there are days when all I want to hear is Dvorak or Beethoven. And when I’m in the mood, please get my toes a-tapping with some down-to-earth, boot-stomping Blue Grass.
On the news yesterday and today are the heart-wrenching stories and pictures from Samoa and Indonesia. People’s lives torn apart, wrecked by savage tsunami’s and earthquakes, forces of nature over which we have no control. Any “small stuff” problems that I may have been lamenting about dwindle into nothingness by comparison.
Probably the biggest example of perspective that I can remember in my own life happened back in the mid seventies. I was living in Sardinia at the time. It was a gorgeous, warm, clear August evening and the sky was littered with millions of stars forming the Milky Way. I remember standing on the patio of my little cottage and getting a cricked neck from staring upwards.
Then I had an idea. There was a six-foot long wooden picnic table on the patio which I covered with a sleeping bag. Then I lay on top and in wonderful comfort began to star gaze. It was an incredible experience. It looked as though someone had taken a dozen sacks full of diamonds and thrown them across the width and breadth of the sky.
It was only then, at the ripe old age of thirty something, that I began to get a clear idea of what the universe was about. As I lay on that picnic table I suddenly realized that it wasn’t just a flat dark blue background with “big stars, and little stars” painted all over it. I understood for the first time the significance of the word “infinity”.
I became aware that the “little stars’ were in fact probably just as “big” as the others seemed to me, but that they were further away and thus seemed “smaller”. And I also realized that if I squinted I could just barely see even “smaller” stars that were even further away. And in that one moment the full magnitude of “the universe” hit me.
In that one moment I was both terrified and also in total awe, and I realized just how insignificant I really was in the bigger scheme of things. And yet I also realized just how important I must be to my God that He has chosen to place me here in the bigger scheme of things.