The six of us have had a beastly power struggle this weekend. Me the writer, the Mum, the business owner, the wife, the daughter and the friend. It’s not new, it’s the way it is, of course. It’s just that some days it’s a wretched battle for top dog time and the writer has to succumb to all five before they allow her time to reign and surrender to her rhythm. I first took care of all five with a breakfast out, chores, a delicious roast dinner, car trips, lots of chatting and a sad goodbye which sagged my shoulders. Then I could turn on my screen. Then I searched for my muse, my inspiration. Now where was she just when I gave her me? I found she was actually “nine” in Greek mythology. Nine goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science, and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge and were later adopted by the Romans as a part of their pantheon.
I delved for a clearer view. I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic where she insists we are all creative beings because we’re human. So whether you’re an artist, an entrepreneur, an athlete or a person with a hobby, creativity will lead you to a more satisfying life. It requires “living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than fear”. It is mystical and divine, says not only Gilbert but also Stephen Pressfield, author of The War of Art.
It seems the muse can show up anytime, so be ready, be open. “When the muse finds you, let her find you working,” said Picasso. Gilbert says: I do my work like a mule, like a farmer, and oftentimes I’ll be rewarded, but it doesn’t happen unless my butt’s on the seat already, and probably has been for months.”
Pressfield talks about risking “the unlived life” by yielding to the many manifestations of resistance which prevents communion with the muse. “Resistance will bury you…Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work.” He states we have two lives. The life we live and the unlived life within us, and that between the two stands resistance. “Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what resistance is.” Resistance kicks in any time we try to move ourselves from a lower plane to a higher. In other words, when we try to align with the better parts of our nature. “This move can be creative (art) or physical (athletics) or it can be ethical, moral or spiritual.”
If you’re a mother, allowing your creativity to take residence can be extra tenuous. All of us know the sacred contract with motherhood and the difficulty we have in giving ourselves permission to be something other than a mother. Therein lies the most extreme form of resistance for many of us. Rachel Powers writes about it in The Divided Heart: Art and Motherhood. “That is what I have come to understand about the nature of motherhood. It is irresolvable and confounding in its contradictions. And perhaps without it, I would have remained hidden to myself always — pristine and uncarved.”
Me? I’ve read and pondered enough to know we must release the guilt, live curiously and give ourselves permission to be creators. We must show our children the big magical hope that lies ahead. They will love us for it.