Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Crowned With Laurel On Mount Helicon

well, here we are.  together.  me and my invisible audience (such as it ever was).  or rather, her I am, sitting right where I said would, last week.  good for me!  that's a step in the right direction, anyway...  now, to avoid the responsibility for making myself be here, I can:  make a phone call, answer emails, renew my student loan repayment plan, eat something, practice the songs I'm supposed to be playing on keyboard for an upcoming show, start the passport renewal process, reorganize the art supplies and/or my bookshelf, fill out craft show applications, or check my to-do list for other options.  nothing gets me motivated to do the dishes more than a task I want to complete even less than doing the dishes.  and why is writing suddenly so far down on my list of things to do?  two reasons.  one, I have nothing in particular I need or want to write about in this moment; two, setting it up as a 'task' drains all the creativity and spontaneity out of it for me.

but wasn't that the purpose of the exercise (to drain all creativity and spontaneity out of my writing?  I think not.)?  the purpose of the exercise was to get myself back into the habit of writing regularly.  I used to do my journaling at night, reliving the moments of the day to see what happened, what I did or didn't do in relation to what I thought I should or shouldn't have done.  to remind myself of things still needing doing.  sometimes a poem would come out, sometimes a rant, on occasion a pearl of wisdom...  it helped to organize my thoughts, to get stuff out of my head, to draw a map of where to go next, and how to get there - especially helpful when I was overseas, and again when I was pregnant and homeless.  those journals are still waiting for me to collect them together the way that I did for the ones I wrote in my younger years.  it takes me a long time to get things 'done'; I'm one of those obnoxious people that has 50 unfinished projects taking up space in my closet/trunk/head at all times.  why do I do that?  I'm sure it's some deeply rooted psychological nonsense that I won't make the time to research...unless I'm trying to avoid a task I've set myself.

and the avoidance continues, because I seriously did just take the time to read 5 different articles on the subject of 'failing to complete projects', and here's the breakdown:  it can come from a fear of evaluation, a fear of success, or worrying about failure (among other things).  ways to get past it include breaking the tasks down into smaller bits, knowing that beating myself up won't get me anywhere, and losing the guilt of not getting it done altogether (also among other things).  so, technically, telling myself I have to blog once a week is taking a step in the right direction.  forming (or re-forming, in this case) a habit, building momentum through ritual and practice.  during the course of writing this post, I did check both my email and social media several times, made the phone call, ate food, and read more than the previously mentioned 5 articles on procrastination.  to be fair, the emails pertained to rehearsals for the show I mentioned needing to practice for, as did the social media checks (I need to let people know the show is happening, so they can come out and support us), the phone call was to my mom about an upcoming trip we may be taking, and the food I ate was both last night's cold pizza out of the fridge and a few handfuls of Cheerios straight from the box.  yum.  I talked about my crappy food habits in the previous post - not wanting to cook for 'just one', not wanting to dirty any dishes - add to that my poverty-driven need to save any and all food for the growing teen to eat, and...well, it's a recipe for disaster, in terms of my own health.

in any case, since I take Mondays 'off', I'm perfectly happy giving myself the whole day to get this done, even though I have 8 other tasks on the 'to-do' list today.  so let's discuss the concept of the 'muse' - generally defined in Greek mythology as "each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (or Ouranos and Gaia, or others, depending on your source material), who preside over the arts and sciences; a person or personified force who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist."  in some traditions there are only three Muses, some name four - and by different names - but nine is the commonly accepted number.  their names and attributes are as follows:  Calliope, epic poetry; Clio, history; Euterpe, flutes and lyric poetry; Thalia, comedy and pastoral poetry; Melpomene, tragedy; Terpsichore, dance; Erato, love poetry; Polyhymnia, sacred poetry; and Urania, astronomy.  they apparently have Hindu and Buddhist counterparts known as Apsaras, which I would like to explore as well, but one thing at a time, here.

in questing after this theme, I ran across this article from a few years ago (and followed several of the links) which spoke to my personal feelings about being a conduit for something much older and wiser than 'me' to express itself through.  I remember writing about how disappointing it was that my earlier heroes all died so young, mostly of overdoses, and how I wanted a role model that could skirt those edges of insanity without falling in - how I admired the ability to harness that mystical energy we conjured from our magical gatherings where we called our daemons and genius into being from Source, and gave over to them our bodies for their use in dance, song, rhythm, poetry, and more.  The 'duende', when everything is working in harmony, it all clicks, those moments when Divine Inspiration made me move this way, or write that - when after the ritual, others would gather around me and tell me of my power, or after a reading when they'd tell me I was such a good writer...no darlings, no...all I did was show up, and the Muse worked through me.  I am simply a tool for the Ineffable, and oh so humbled at having been granted the opportunity to be of use.

the author of this article, androcentrist as they may be, discussed the Muse as 'a surrender', which they describe as 'the ultimate feminine act'...now, I can probably spend hours unpacking that particular sentiment, but I'm going to let it stand for a moment, because I like where it led, if I didn't like where it began.  they go on to state that "the closest place where 'feminine' surrenders and gives freely to a creation is probably the way many mothers surrender their lives to their children ...to create a larger objective...that transcends the ego."  yes, I cut a bunch out of an entire paragraph to whittle it down to just what I needed to make my point, but it relates back to last week's post where I wondered where my creative flow had drained off to, after discussing how I'd been spending all my energy for the past 15 years being a certain kind of parent.  this is relevant, because I have often been heard to say that I put my life on hold to dedicate all my energy towards raising my Wolf Cub the best way I could, with the little I have.  While I was pregnant/single/unemployed/homeless, I asked with my anger where all the Good Energy I put out into the Universe had gone.  I questioned all those times over the years that I danced naked in the woods around a bonfire, connecting with the Absolute, sweating in lodges, and cold-plunging into the lake - directing the Work towards where it was most needed, howling under the stars.  Where Did It Go?  WHY wasn't it helping me NOW?  the moment my son was placed on my chest the answer came, as I welcomed him with the words, "there it is!"  and lo, there he was.

and he still is - my Greatest teacher.  luckily, I don't lean on him past asking him to wait at the bottom of the stairs if it's slippery, because my footing is less sure with every passing year, and as the 'head of household', I need to be protected from falls and the like, because if I go down, our household flounders until I recover.  what I mean to say in the context of this writing, though, is that I am not overly attached to my child as 'my ultimate creation', or that penultimate Work I can never top - while he was created in a certain kind of scared ritual, he is a person, and I'm not all wrapped up in ego over him.  like I've said, I've mostly done my job with him, and it's his time to see where he gets to, using the tools I've given him to make choices and survive, and time for me to reclaim some of that energy I've surrendered over the years to get back to My work...or rather 'my Work'.  time to look in the mirror, and recognize my internal desire in my own reflection - the Source of my own Being - again.  

to shake off the cloak of Fear society has laid about my shoulders, with all their doubts and misgivings about what a woman can do, who she can be, how she must look/smell/laugh/sit/dress/behave, where her 'place' is, when she can speak, and what about.  I've heard "you can't..." come at me from too many mouths, mouths that claimed authority over my sovereignty, enough that I grew fearful of the world I formerly traveled through alone, and sought refuge in the relative safety of societal norms, but...I am too large to be contained that way, and I chafed at my bindings, so I never really let them hold me all that tightly.  now, I'm ready to burn them down.  'they' can have their 'crabs in a bucket', as Lao-Tse reminds us: "you cannot pull me down, for I sit at a place from where you cannot go any lower.  therefore my throne is well protected."  he also tells us that "if you want to attain that wealth that no thief can take from you then become wealthless and consider it to be your greatest treasure."  this is the Sutra for perfect knowledge - only the last can be first.  and that Wise old Fool Nasruddin concurs: "the first chair is never safe in this world, it is the unsafest place in the world."

Plato's 'allegory of the cave' works well in this context, too, as the pull to live one's own 'uniqueness' often disrupts the vision 'the collective' has for all its members, and it can be extremely hard to live as one's full self in the wake of such numbers and the weight of its negative onslaught, but the call to freedom comes with the obligation to attempt to bring others along, because once you've experienced it, you remember the pain of having to live without it.  it's no wonder I need to call on All my Spirit guides to remind me how to live my truth, and I fall back into quoting the old masters when my own words aren't enough.  to restore the balance that is critical to my survival - but more than that, it is Our survival.  to restore balance to our communities, our justice systems, our world leaders, and the Earth itself.  this Work is crucial, this Work is personal, this Work is collective, and this Work is given to us as creatives to channel through the physical manifestations the Absolute has gifted us with to share with as many others as we can reach.  so I have sat with my invisible audience all these years, not so much for myself, but as an expression of one of all of our Selves, saying what the Universe is typing through my fingers.  I've been busy healing the wound birthing a human left me with, but I believe I'm finding my way back, and asking you if you'd like to come along.

      dream we ride 
                   to where his hoof brought forth 
the Hippocrene, 

where we bathe 
in the beauty 
of Helicon,  

to the sanctuary 
               of the Muses
       who crown us 
              with laurel and 
gift us
                 the Divine.

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