“No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” -Martha Graham
When “woe is me-ing” to one of my mentors over something I had created, she told me of this quote and suggested I find myself an Artistic Muse. She explained that we are so harsh in our own judgement that we shut things down without sharing them with the world even though the world may need them. Our own criticism can kill our gifts. My Artistic Muses are pretty fabulous weapons for tweaking and finalizing my art and they usually don’t allow me to throw it in the trash as I may have done had I been arting solo. What a brilliant addition they have been to my journey!
There are creative people in my life that I check in with on projects of which I feel uncertainty around. Painters, crafters and writers who are my friends that will peek at my work and give me some advice, a constructive critique and maybe even some technical help. There are also people with skills outside my creative realm whom I need to call on when I’m outside my element. They are my flesh and blood muses. But then…
…and this is what she’s talking about: the famous people whose work I deeply admire. When I’m in such angst about a thing that I’m not sure it should be a thing, these are the Artistic Muses I need.
When I have a story to tell and I need to weave it into a magical tale with just the right words and bring out just the right emotions, I call on Bruce to show me the magic in the night, I mean in the words. I had a creative writing teacher in high school who told us to bring in our favorite poem. Never able to actually follow the rules, I brought in the jacket from Born to Run with the lyrics for my favorite “poem”, Thunder Road. He wanted me to explain why it was my favorite. I don’t know that I ever really thought about the reason until then. All that happens in the song is that he pulls up to her house, she comes outside and he says, “let’s go”. But his magical wordsmithing (and some phonomenal sax from the Big Man) make that 30 second event five minutes of the most soulful and powerful lines that we ALL know. I knew after that class why I loved the song but I also understood why I loved words so much. They can be both short and simple or complex and lyrical. “Forget about your loser ex-boyfriends” becomes:
“There were ghosts in the eyes of all the boys you sent away They haunt this dusty beach road in the skeleton frames of burned-out Chevrolets They scream your name at night in the street Your graduation gown lies in rags at their feet And in the lonely cool before dawn You hear their engines rolling on But when you get to the porch, they’re gone on the wind”
So, when I’m looking to come up with some words that truly evoke emotions, I call on the guy who writes that. And I’ve read his new book and listened to his Broadway show so I know how hard he is on himself. But he is pretty supportive with me. He looked over that last piece I wrote and he said, “It ain’t a beauty. But, hey, it’s alright” so I hit send. I also bowed down to my Lady Gaga candle and asked her opinion. She always cries and sends me love and hugs and tells me to never let anyone crush my dreams, especially myself.
When I was a teenager, my dad would sneak a little army man-like figurine of St. Joseph into church in the inside pocket of his Sunday-go-to-meetin’ /Miami Vice jacket. When my mom wasn’t looking and all was quiet, he’d whip out ol’ Joe and whisper to one of us that he had an apostle in his pocket. We’d laugh in the silence and mom would have to move from her last spot of trying to separate us (maybe from him asking for a go cart when the priest told us to pray for our needs) to a new spot of trying to separate us but there were four of us and one of her, so the giggle would just move. I’ve never really felt the need to carry a plastic religious icon in my pocket, but there are many people in my life that I wish I could have a tiny little personal version that I could whip out in times of need.
The first one I wanted was my grandfather. A Poppy-in-my-pocket! So instead of the thousands of frantic, sometimes embarrassing, phone calls over the years, my Pocket Poppy could help me with my algebra, tell me which food expiration dates were just suggestions, how to eat moldy cheese and not die, which two cleaning chemicals should I not use at the same time so I don’t die, is my roast done, how to hook these two things together, which cousin was that, how do I make a roux, do you have one of these i can borrow, can you pick me up, can you pick my kids up??? Now there is Google, but it’s just not the same as calling him with a stupid question, him telling me there is no such thing as a stupid question and then having him calling me “Jesus Christ Alisa” because he couldn’t believe I didn’t know the answer to my not-stupid-at-all question.
I have come across other people in my adult life who have qualities I really, really wish i possessed. I no longer get jealous because now I just pretend I have a tiny little version of them to pull out and ask “what would you do here?” or I just envision them and try to put a bit more of their confidence, self-love, character in myself to get through something or improve my outlook.
We all face times in our life when we need to borrow a little bit of something we feel we lack. When we need a team of supporters, some inspiration or just the tiniest push. Times when we are unsure for the wrong reasons. Times when we need a muse, or maybe a whole plastic army of them.
Written by: A.M.S.