I have recently become aware that I had a muse missing in my life. I have had three for a long time but it felt unbalanced and while I sought to put it right it the solution moved away from me.
First let me clarify that what I mean by muse is someone who inspires me in any area of my life. I’m not arrogant enough to think that I need four guardian angels just to write these blogs or the few newspaper I pieces I written in the past.
The first is the finest German writer of his generation and has been since I was 23. Those of you know me will know instantly who he is and those of you who know your writers will also know who he is.
He lived in tough times and his most famous work is always misunderstood. It is an analogy of the political situation in the country in which he lived and the attention his father feared he would attract to the family by pursuing his heritage. In the end the authorities took his family and wiped them out but after his death and after his uncompleted work was seized by the authorities. I hope against hope that one day they’ll be found and the world will be able to read more of his fine words.
It’s not just his writing that I found inspiring or the pains he took over it. His novels went unfinished because he tried to make them perfect yet doubted he could reach the levels of perfection he demanded.
His writing is thought to be dark and hopeless but it isn’t. If you read it, and his diaries, carefully you can see his sense of humour and fun in his life. He was also a bit of a lad and made the best of what was on offer in his part of the world when he was well (both mentally and physically) to enjoy it.
He inspires me because in spite, or may to despite, the depressions that drove him to the point of suicide he kept on going. He preferred the semicolon over the full stop no matter how much it hurt.
When a physical illness that was killing him became too much he choose to die by assisted suicide; an incredible act of bravery.
The second is a friend who can be loud and bawdy but who is also full of common sense. What he lacks in spontaneity (though I have corrupted him at times) he makes up for in reliability and stolidity. His is the hand at the small of my back that guides me to the right places and when it is absolutely necessary the arm that sits around my shoulders while I wail because the pain and storms inside my head wreck me and drive me to sit with the means to opt out of living.
He is brash but he is beautiful just don’t tell him I said that.
Number three is the calmest person I know. They’re a little old fashioned and I shock them a fair bit I think but we talk the most wonderful talks. There is no subject that either of us find difficult to broach and speak honestly. It is a life time friendship and we both believe that it’s unbreakable.
I can, as the saying goes, talk the hind legs off a donkey. I don’t chat to fill voids I’m just that irritatingly person who wakes up talking and doesn’t shut up until they are asleep.
He has taught me that silence is good and worth chasing. Through him I have realised that the time that I was happiest was when I was living in a school attached to a monastery. I always had fun with the monks that I knew but I would also wake ridiculously early to attend matins. The poetry of the short service would carry through my day just like porridge carries me physically from breakfast time to lunch.
Although I use mindfulness through the day I rarely sit and meditate anymore and I think that it’s time I set aside time to make a silent space on a regular basis.
The fourth person is somebody who has let me know what is lacking in my life. I met him a few years ago. He is calm, confident and one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. No matter the provocation he doesn’t rise to it and defends anybody who is at the wrong end of abuse.
I need to be more like him. I need to rein myself in on political agitation, baiting people who don’t agree with me or causing arguments by alleging that I’m defending those who can’t defend themselves and concentrate on the goodness that change can make. I need to stop reacting and start acting – a difficult change for me to make.
I’m really good at shooting my mouth and it has got me into trouble so many times I’ve stopped counting. The thing that I always seem to miss is that by shouting and reacting I’m no better than the people I’m railing at.
Change is difficult and more so when you live alone and have nobody to rein in your eccentricities and sense of self importance. I love living on my own but I really have to remember that it doesn’t make me god-like.
The silence I hope to learn doesn’t not have to be a negative emptiness, it can be a positive lack of noise.