Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Muse Also Moos

(Try not to think about this week's entry too much in conjunction with the last one. Cows in scuba gear is a subject best left for a Far Side cartoon. Though, having said that, I am picturing a Gary Larson-esque cow in a swim cap.)

I was reminded the other day that I live in the country. This is not something I generally forget, especially as the local grocery store closed and the next nearest place for a half gallon of good ice cream is ten minutes away by car. Yet there are times when it is less prevalent in the forefront of my mind, made easier by my home being in a small community where I do actually have neighbors that I can see out of my own windows. Well, their homes, anyway, lest someone think I am spying on my neighbors. Which if you'd seen my neighbors you'd understand is a scary concept. Real life is not Hollywood, and my neighbors have never, ever been the kind of people I'd want to even catch a glimpse of running around in their underwear.

Nonetheless, it was brought home to me when as I was making the commute into work, there were cows alongside the road. They were on their side of the fence, thankfully, but they were as close to the road as they can get. Now, within a ten minute radius of my house (and each other) there are cows, sheep, alpacas, and buffalo. It's quite an eclectic mix of grazing livestock. Certainly not the kind of assortment you'd expect to find in an urban environment.

As I drove past the cows, I mused to myself about the bucolic environs, and how conducive it is to easing stress and such. In short, the usual cliches. Which was going to be what this post was about. Only I realized that not only did I not want to do that, but that it wasn't accurate. While I like being out in the country, with the flowers (to which I am not allergic, or my reactions would be very different) and the green and the cows and yes, even the sheep and the alpacas and the buffalo, I have been equally inspired in any number of places in the city. There is an overpass in downtown Chicago, towards the waterfront, for example, where as a pedestrian once I stopped and watched the traffic humming back and forth in the evening gloaming. Not to mention the half dozen other places in Chicago, or Boston, or even Pittsburgh, where I have done much the same.

It occurred to me that this is what it is to be an artist. My medium is words, of course, so I call myself a writer not an artist, but that is what writers and poets are, just as surely as anyone who works with paints and brushes or a camera and a lens. And as such, our muses tend to take on a myriad of forms. We have the gift of looking at the world in such a way that many things inspire us. Some more so than others, to be sure, but we retain some of that childlike sense of wonder at the world that allows us to appreciate not only the joy of chasing fireflies, but the firefly-like blinking of road construction signs along a road. (Provided we aren't stuck in traffic because of them.)

And so, while we tend to speak of a single muse, this is perhaps misleading. Possibly even incorrect. We have multiple muses, who inspire us in a multitude of ways, providing that we are willing to listen to them when we do.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to reread my Far Side collection.

1 comment:

Paula said...

I get most of my plotting and character development done on my country commutes to and from work. I know the road like the back of my hand.