I’m a dead firecracker / I ain’t got any fuse
I ain’t got no inspiration since I lost my Muse
I’m a table with two legs / I’m a spider with five
I’m goin’ down slow / Muse, when will you arrive?
Oh Muse, where are you?
Oh Muse, where are you?
You know I eat, drink and I smoke stuff–
I don’t what to do!
–Loudon Wainwright III, “Muse Blues”
When you’ve crossed a High Holy finish line, there’s an adrenaline crash that accompanies the big finale. Actors and musicians experience it as the “curtain call blues.” Writers moan that they’ve “lost their muse.” Most creative folks I know “rebound” into bigger, meatier, more challenging projects before the old one has sighed into silence.
Completion carries with it a sense of death — death, and deep questions: “Who am I, now?” “What’s next, for me?” and most importantly, “How can I get inspired, again?”
Today, I’m offering a quartet of Mighty Cures for the ol’ Muse Blues — 4 remedies to refuel your mind, reboot your heart, and ricochet you into the next grand adventure.
Muse Blues :: You’ve hit your peak capacity. There’s nothing left to create.
Mighty Cure :: Make an Extreme Commitment.
When I was 19, I had my first (and most fearsome) existential crisis. So I dropped out of college — and got my helicopter pilot’s license. It was the first endeavor I’d ever undertaken where “success” meant the difference between a stamped aviation certificate and a flaming pyre of rotorcraft rubble. I was pretty fucking committed to succeed.
Cultivating “extreme commitment” is like learning to walk, riding a bicycle, or shooting a bow & arrow. Once the capacity is there, it’s encoded for life. And while flying choppers wasn’t destined to be my life’s calling, passing my checkride gave me the confidence to tackle absolutely anything. “Oh that? Whatever. I just flew 796 pounds of whirring metal to Oxnard & back. No sweat.”
Muse Blues :: You’re burnt out. Bored. Just plain…numb. What’s the point of it all?
Mighty Cure :: Take a radical detour.
Earlier this year, I fought a severe bout of the Muse Blues with a series of Irish Gaelic language lessons. Relevant to my career? Not so much. Useful, helpful, productive? Maybe if I was a scholar of Celtic mythology — or an elderly leprechaun. Fascinating, wicked-hard, and a welcome reprieve from ‘puter screen burnout? You betcha.
Spontaneous non sequiturs fill our creative wells like nothing else. If you’re burnt out, GET OUT of your industry for a spell. To quote my wise mama, “be surprised or be surprising — or both!”
Muse Blues :: You haven’t experienced the ecstasy of a genuinely original idea in…eons.
Mighty Cure :: Travel. Even just one zipcode away.
Ever notice that the moment you plant yourself Elsewhere — be it on a train, plane, road trip to nowhere, or even a coffee shop you’d never noticed before — the zing-pow ideas come flooding in?
FACT :: people who travel (especially to countries with foreign languages) become — and remain — more creative than their home-dwelling comrades. As if you needed another reason to celebrate next New Years Eve in gay Paris!
My best ideas have arrived on lengthy, aimless car trips (always bring a recording device, like Agent Cooper in Twin Peaks), on flights to Los Angeles, in NYC cabs, and on sultry, summertime bicycle rides. Put your wheels in motion, and fresh ambition will follow.
Muse Blues :: You’ve got plenty of decent ideas, sure — but all of ‘em feel tedious & dreary.
Mighty Cure :: Do that One Big Thing.
Often, when we’re wallowing in the Muse Blues, what we’re really asking ourselves isn’t “What now?” but rather “What can I do now that’ll continue to divert & protect me from that One Big Thing I actually want to do?”
Your One Big Thing might be…starting a business. Or teaching a class. Or writing a memoir. Or spending a year in the south of France, studying the intricate art of cheesemongering. It might be having a child. Or ending a love affair. It might be an act of extreme philanthropy — raising the funds to build a whole damn school in Cambodia. Or burning your résumé & re-entering academia — but this time, as a Botany major, with dual minor in Sustainable Farming & Anthropology!
You already know the cure for what ails ya. Really, you do.
“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea,
never regains its original dimensions.”
–Oliver Wendell Holmes
And now, a brief word from our sponSOAR…
In her own precise words, “fuck ‘em.”
To ring in 2012 with an incendiary bang, Jill’s created a new coaching program, starting January 14th — INSPIRATIONAL TENACITY. It’s a secret girls club meets wellness cleanse meets early morning reboot for your mind, body + mundane-to-miraculous muscles.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Rowe in the video-confessional booth, at last year’s Rich, Happy & Hot LIVE — and she radiated electric-orange charisma, on-camera & off. I suggest you spelunk through her world, and consider spending 30 days in her orbit. Because INSPIRATIONAL TENACITY is très 2012.