on finding your muse & a poet’s advice by e.e. cummings

Beautiful wildflowers on the trail!

Last week I went to a faculty lecture at work by the wonderful Jennifer Selig on leading through vocation. It’s still got me thinking on my archetypal energies and how I’m living, or not living, into my truth. She asked us: what made you really weird as a child? How were you different? What did you like to do? I immediately thought of all my summer reading lists, and journals, and how proud I felt after finishing a good book, even after the tenth time reading it. I’ve never been one to play house or watch cartoons; I don’t ever remember believing in Santa and I’ve always considered myself an introvert. In many ways I feel like I lack imagination; I don’t like to play make-believe, I can barely make it through an entire movie, and I think this whole vampire craze is stupid. Reading, and now moreso writing, has always been my way of understanding and interpreting the world around me.

This has landed me at my first writer’s conference this weekend: The Writer’s Journey: Outside In and Back Again. I usually don’t admit to being a writer, in fact, while introducing myself to others tonight I caught myself saying “oh, I’m just a blogger” while thinking in my mind okay, good to meet you too, now leave me alone, I’m here to listen and absorb and take notes, not talk to you. This must seem a bit harsh to an extrovert, but if you’re an introvert, I’m sure you get it. It’s interesting though the way one describes themselves to others. It’s like I dont want to give myself the credit of being a writer because that implies having some sort of craft. Where as a blogger, hell, anyone can be a blogger, no craft needed. It’s a safer space to inhabit, a little less assertive, and a little more undermining of one’s craft. Tonight’s opening lecture by Michael Meade of Mosaic Voices called upon the muses. What I found really interesting is that the muse that we seek is not “out there” but rather it’s “in here” and has been here the whole time. As a culture we are so used to looking outwards for answers, perhaps a degree, or a career, or a separate voice or divine being. Just as Jennifer asked us to reflect on our childhood, I found myself reflecting on my truth that has been here all along. It’s just been waiting to be blessed, to be given a voice, to be heard.

Michael spoke to our muse as being the music of one’s soul, of tapping into the flow of eternal knowledge that is within each of us, a part of the divine, and to learning from those who have passed on for they are part of this eternal knowledge. It is through writing and expression in which ideas are passed on; without words these ideas would be unnamed, lost. We are constantly co-creating this world with our thoughts, our words, our art, and our connection with one another. Your muse, your art, is what the soul knew before being born into a world bound by time. I look forward to what else this weekend conference has in store. In the meantime, enjoy this advice from nonother than e.e. cummings. Also, check this out: A TED talk: The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain

A Poet’s Advice

e. e. cummings

A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through

This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know they feel—but that’s
thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is
feeling—not knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single
human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think
or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the
moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.

To be nobody-but-yourself—in a world which is doing its best, night
and day, to make you everybody else—means to fight the hardest
battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for expressing nobody-but-yourself in words, that means working
just a little harder than anybody who isn’t a poet can possible
imagine. Why? Because nothing is quite as easy as using words like
somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the
time—and whenever we do it, we are not poets.

If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and
working and feeling, you find you’ve written one line of one poem,
you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become poets is: do
something easy, like learning how to blow up the world—unless you’re
not only willing, but glad, to feel and work and fight till you die.

Does this sound dismal? It isn’t.

It’s the most wonderful life on earth.

Or so I feel.

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