Today, I finished a chair I’ve been working on for a couple of weeks, on and off. All that is left is to give it a final sanding before waxing the b’jesus out of it – the grain will shine and the colours of the bark will glow from deep within – but that is for tomorrow.
For now, as I look at this chair, I am happy with the result – I run my hand over it and I feel it alive to my touch – to my eyes it is an object of beauty, from which it is hard to shift my gaze. As I look I contemplate what it is to have a Muse, to be struck by The Muse, to want to create simply from the joy of creating, to satisfy The Muse, to manifest the beauty into the physical. To know that, when satisfied, she will smile and be pleased, before lifting you to greater feats.
I have thought about this almost constantly, for many, many years, for what seems like an eternity. What is a Muse? To me the Muse is the embodiment of strength, beauty, grace, elegance and gentle, loving encouragement. The Muse, is calming, entrancing and dreamy – and can transport the soul from the mundane into a world where anything is possible.
When Mike Scott, of Waterboys fame, wrote “Trumpets” he was truly inspired by, and writing for, his Muse – how could he not be? When Mervyn Peake wrote about the Hall of The Bright Carvings, and the struggles of the Carvers, he was not only struck by the Muse, but describing all that can spring from a Muse – the desire to create beauty, the disappointment when the work is not ‘perfection’, and from that the desire to start, and try, again, in the hope of attaining the pinnacle of beauty – of satisfying The Muse.
To never give up, to keep trying to improve, but also to sit quietly at times and be grateful for those moments of contentment that naturally arise, before getting up and striving to be better, to do better – to be happy in the creativity and the beauty we see – that is The Muse. To me, anyway.
So, as I look at this chair, I know that, were I a denizen of the mud huts of Gormenghast, I would be consigning it to the flames – not with sadness or disappointment, for My Muse smiled briefly and that made me happy – but so that I don’t rest contented and self-satisfied. I will start again and try to do better, and make a greater effort to make something more beautiful, more appealing, more satisfying. At the very least something in which someone will want to sit and feel comfortable and contented, if only for a little while before they set forth into the world again.
It doesn’t matter what you do, what you make, or create – do it, lose yourself in it, enjoy it, and appreciate it for what it is, all it is. Then, smile and rest contented for a while. Find your Muse.