Posts Tagged ‘muses’

Last night, after dinner with Happy (a lovely and completely unexpected gift), I spent hours alone in my flat…reading, writing and just soaking in solitude. As has often been the case this semester, the evening included a Julia Cameron exercise. In her chapter titled “Catalysts,” she pays tribute to the people who have inspired her writing over the years:

Another word for “muse” is “fuse lighter.” Some people simply provoke us into art. We respond to their interest and enthusiasm as to a welcome challenge. Such people are invaluable. It is not that we would not make art without them, but we might make less art, or art of a lesser caliber.

Cameron then challenges the reader to list five “fuse lighters” (though I rather prefer the image of a candle lighter) that they have known ,and the projects they have sparked or jump-started. I confess I listed eight or so, and went on and on about them. As all artists – and human beings – know, having a network of loving, creative, enthusiastic support is truly invaluable.

Here are the first five who sprang up, some with the creative projects they’ve helped engender:

1. Jon, my fabulous best friend, inspired a poetry kick in ninth grade which continues in some form to this day. Somewhere I still have the sheet of “inspercations” we scribbled down together, which generated dozens of poems – and he waded through yards of them. He has been the touchpoint and first reader for many of my ideas through the years, and continues to encourage and support me. He never has wanted to be my critic, but he’ll be my idea man any day.

2. Geoff Walker, my brilliant, enigmatic English teacher from senior year at MHS, is also a musician, a poet, a bit of a mystic and one of the greatest hearts I’ve ever known. He always believed I was something wonderful, and thanks to him, I have grown more into who I truly am. He has given me books, poems, music, letters, encouragement and so much other inspiration, and when I am very sad or very happy I think of his oft-used phrase, “There’s always more.” Yes, there is, Walker…much, much more.

3. Cole most recently inspired “Infamy,” with his song about Pearl Harbor, and before that helped inspire “In the Presence of a Hero” and “Of Swing Dance and Style” (both published on Radiantmag.com this summer). His music (and Ed and Jenni’s) is also a muse for me. I can’t help but pick up a pen every time I hear them play…even if I just jot down lines from the songs they sing.

4. Bethany, my sweet roommate, knows all about the search for the right word, and has an excellent ear. We love stories and poetry, and we speak the same language. We trade books and anecdotes and even sentences to see if they sound right. She loves my stuff, but she also loves me enough to give criticism where it’s due.

5. Oxford is not a person, but a very real presence in my life, and quite a muse. It has inspired my entire life for the last three years…poems, stories, essays, recollections, faith and the way I live. It has changed me and shaped me. I will live there some day…I will…and I will keep going back to it my whole life.

6. (I know, I know, I said five, but whatever.) Jeremiah has helped sustain me and cheer me on through the last three roller-coaster years. He has lit candles of faith and love and grace for me, and kept them burning when I didn’t see how it was possible. And, of course, he is absolutely so much fun. 🙂

The common thread on this list is not simply that these folks love me, though that’s certainly true (and I love them too). It is that all of them have inspired me to live, and so to become more of an artist. Julia comments elsewhere, “In order to make art, we must first have an artful life,” and these people (plus many others) have helped inspire me to live more fully, more artfully. To stay up talking half the night; to lindy hop to jivin’ saxophone music or savor a slow, graceful twirl; to walk windy streets for hours alone and find parts of myself that I didn’t know were there all along. To read, and sing, and travel, and laugh, and cry. To simply live – and thus to become more fully me. My life is more artful because of these muses. And for that I am deeply, deeply grateful.

Who are the candle lighters in your life?


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