While I’m obediently awaiting my muse’s arrival, why don’t I write something about the muse, or at least one of them?
Ever find yourself waiting for something sudden and unexpected? Let’s face it, muse visits are always unexpected, and even when expected, never in line with our timing. The best we can do is to stay prepared for the visit right? Maybe more importantly, we should be prepared for their departure.
I have two muses (that I’m aware of). First, him. His presence is always sudden, sudden like cloudless lightning, like a jack-in-the-box without music, like that mid-snore gasp of air that wakes you up choking on the spider you just swallowed. This may be more of a shock for the spider, but it depends upon perspective, and if the spider eventually crawls back out, or if it exits via another orifice. I digress.
Once, one of my two muses and I were in a hotel room together. No it’s not what you think. We made art. I asked him why he didn’t show up gradually, like a movie ghost. “Movie ghosts make dramatic manifestations,” I said. “This gives people a chance to emotionally prepare for their arrival.”
He stared at me like a character from a movie poster. I tried to explain. “A movie ghost gives dramatic signs, a breeze, extinguished candles, a sudden drop in ambient temperature, a chill, goosebumps, flowing curtains, a whisper.”
My muse humored me, or pretended to, then he decided to talk.
“Have a seat in front of the table,” he said.
I did as I was told. I’m an obedient artist.
“Close your eyes.”
“Place your hands over your eyes.”
“I can’t,” I said. “I’m holding a glass of water.”
“Put the glass down.”
“I can’t see where to put it. My eyes are closed.”
“Jeez. Open your eyes, put the glass of water on the table in front of you, then close your eyes and cover them with your hands.”
I did as I was told.
My muse then drove what I believe to be the jewel of his over-sized ring into the patellar tendon region of my left knee. It generated a knee-jerk reaction. My left knee flexed involuntarily, instantly, violently. I kicked the table leg in front of me, breaking the leg. The glass of water turned over and the water poured into my lap.
It could have been worse. I could have been drinking hot coffee. It also could have been better. I could have been wearing shoes. It could have been the toe of my shoe that broke the table leg, and not the toe of my toe.
Did I mention that my muse has a big ring? He has a big ring. A really nice one. It’s solid brass with a huge (I’m guessing sapphire) stone protruding above the prongs. The jewel is held in place by the jaws of what appears to be a half-serpent, two-thirds bird.
In addition to the ring, he wears formal attire, top hat, tuxedo jacket, vest, shirt, all layers of black-on-black. The only non-black part of his dress is the thin ribbon of white silk that wraps his hat just above the brim. The ribbon is almost a pale as his thin elongated face.
“What did you just learn,” he asked.
“That I need to sit farther away from the table next time?”
“That you shouldn’t always do as you’re told.”
“But you’re my muse. How can I not do as you say?”
“You are not doing as I say now. You are questioning me.”
“So, I should do as you say; therefore, not do as you say?”
“Yes but not always.”
“How do I know whether to listen to you or not?”
“When you don’t listen to me and you make crappy art, you will know you should have listened to me. Of course, after having listened to me when you shouldn’t have, you will also make crappy art.”
“So, either way,” I said, “if I listen to you when I shouldn’t have, or if I don’t listen when I should have, I end up making crappy art. I’m sorry, but what’s your purpose in my life again?”
“To inspire you to make great art.”
“How to you get the reward of making great art without the risk of making crappy art?”
“Then why do I even need you? Why do I sit around waiting for you, my muse, to show up, and why, when you do show up, do I beg and bribe you to stay, when I know you won’t? Why do I waste my time waiting around to be inspired? Why don’t I just start working without you?”
He checked the prongs around the jewel to make sure the stone was still secure. “Excellent. Why do you need me at all? Why not just start working without me? I sense progress. Do you really think you would have arrived at that realization that I’m a creation of your imagination without my real presence here? You’re welcome.”
I rubbed my knee and flexed my toes. I almost had feeling in three of them. “Where did you get that awesome ring,” I asked.
“An artist made it for me,” he said. “While he waited for me to show up.” He laughed for the first time.
When I looked up to give a witty retort, one that was still forming in an abstract way in my brain, I saw that I was alone in the hotel room. I was the victim of a sudden and unexpected exit. I examined the room, the broken table in front of me, the glass on the floor, my throbbing knee, my soaked crotch (soaked from the spilled water, if I was not clear earlier).
Eventually, my crotch would dry. It would have dried quicker, if I had taken a walk outside and exposed my wetness to the warm breeze, but my knee wouldn’t support a walk. I stayed inside that day and made really crappy art. A few times, parts of my crappy art were almost really good.
The good art might have been great if I had had two working legs. Then again, I would have made no art without the muse’s visit. Without his appearance, I would have still been waiting, and justifying the lack of art because of it.
In all the times my muse with the ring has visited me, I don’t know why I’ve never asked him his name. Maybe next time. Maybe next time I’m making crappy art (like this post), while I’m waiting around for a poke in the knee, I’ll tell you a little about my other muse.
Unlike mister big fancy ring, she shows up gradually, with gentleness and grace, always polite, and always sitting in a chair, one that gracefully appears as she does. She never speaks, yet she and I have had some life-changing conversations.
What a pleasant surprise! Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ve got a visitor.