Thursday, September 6, 2012

On the deer trail

Like a deer trail in the woods, there are many paths
availableto us that are not always the most obvious.

Listening to your muse

Could we have asked for better Labor Day weekend weather? To close out the long weekend, I spent Monday evening sitting atop my garage roof and watching the orange and pink cumulous clouds roll in from the west, carrying the last of the daylight on their journey through the atmosphere.

In between endless pondering of life's meanings and greater lessons, I jotted down some notes as phrases and ideas came to me. This is a process I often utilize when riffing on ideas for creative projects - sitting alone outside and staring. The notes I take are not final draft caliber, but sometimes all I need is that one well-put phrase to come through all of the mediocre rambling for me to be convinced I'm onto something. It's what is known as the hook in music, or the hero in a narrative. The piece of the puzzle that everything else revolves around, and you like it because you relate to it - it makes you see yourself, and you want to hear it again.

There are a lot of different approaches for going through a creative process, but being outside is what works for me. The open air and the movement of all the living material around me helps ease my mind and feeds me energy for thought. The outdoors is my muse, and all I need to do is watch and listen carefully to be inspired.

The beauty of finding your muse is that once you've identified it, your troubles are over. It's like going home for the holidays. A warm, glowing sensation that heals from the inside out, soothes the soul, and requires nothing more of you than simply existing. It's as though you were fighting a war every single day without even knowing it before; as if you've suddenly found your calling.

Everyone has a muse, even if they haven't identified it yet. Your muse is something that makes you think outside yourself. It is a condition or experience that sets your perspective ablaze, ignites passion, generates within you the inclination to create. Your muse provides motivation, inspiration, provocation. We all have this ability, this drive within us to create because you know what, every single human being is creative.

One of my biggest pet peeves is hearing people say, "I'm not creative. I can't do things like that because I'm not a creative person."


I don't know what that means. The personality they have is a creation. The attitude they approach life with is generated by themselves alone. Every thought and sentence they put together is a creation. At the very core of each one of us is a creator. It is completely useless to say you cannot create; you must be a corpse to prevent it.

When I was a kid, I use to spend hours at a time wandering through the woods, following deer trails, picking up sticks and mushroom tops, and pretending they were fighter planes, spaceships, or any other form of tiny person organic technology that was somehow engaged in a mission to repel unseen warlords. The sound effects and dialog I blubbered to myself were all in an effort to create the scenes I saw happening inside my head - translating them to the real world in a way that only I could understand and appreciate.

There are numerous home videos of me doing nothing other than running around the house/yard/beach with plastic dragons and a particular quadruplet of rubber turtles in a half shell, all while screaming and yelling things that sound a bit like swords clanking or creatures roaring. I was never alone in those days, never without an adventure to be living or a quest not queued.

Other kids played sports or were really into bikes or building things, all of which are essentially the same thing. When we were kids, we all did things that we thought were cool or interested us. We entertained ourselves with things that we wanted to learn more about, get better at, be the best at, or just make for the sake of enjoyment. Then we grew up. Suddenly we were responsible for making sense, for making money, and we got off the deer trail and forgot our muse. It's no wonder we no longer feel creative.

This week, I want you to think about the kids going back to school - how they get to recreate themselves with a fresh start at the beginning of each school year, and how we as adults still have that option. We still have a drive to inspire and think and forge and make; to do something that can only be described as awesome. We still have the ability to be playful and create. We just need to get back on the deer path out in the woods; give our imaginations a bit of breathing room.

“Creativity is a natural extension of our enthusiasm.”
- Earl Nightingale
See you out there,
A woodsman in training.

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