Last summer a friend and I went to an outdoor concert at Frederick Meijer Gardens here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They have an amphitheater there, a large stage up front with a leaf-shaped canopy and terraced grass-covered seating for a thousand or more. A lovely venue.
The local band was pretty good, but I don’t recall much about them. That’s because all the real action was happening just in front of the stage. This is where children dragged their parents to come up and dance with them. Throughout the evening I watched kids tug on their parents’ hands in a determined pursuit of the front—to dance and goof off to the music.
As I watched moms and dads move around up there, it was clear being up front was not their idea. And I’m sure for every mom or dad who acquiesced, five more remained seated. “Oh no,” I imagine a fellow saying to his daughter, “we don’t have to go up there to dance. Just dance here. Daddy doesn’t want to go up there.”
But then I noticed some of the moms and dads getting used to the idea. They even seemed to be having a good time.
Fighting the Muses
I couldn’t help thinking about our impulse to create, our “muse,” people call it. In Greek mythology the muses are often depicted as nine dancing goddesses. Ancients considered them the source of knowledge embodied in poetry, literature, music, and science.
In my imagination those children were the muses and their parents were the artists and writers and other creatives. The creative impulse is so much like a child tugging on her father’s hand. “Come ON, Daddy! Let’s dance!”
We can get up and go, or we can tell the muses no, not this time.
What’s Holding You Back?
I just sent out a survey to readers of this blog, and one of the questions was about obstacles. “What’s holding you back?” I asked. Respondents pointed to a wide array of impediments:
- “Getting started”
- “Getting in a regular writing groove”
- “Finding a way to structure and organize”
- “Writing alone. No collaboration.”
- “It’s confidence that’s killing me right now.”
These obstacles are real. They can keep us from doing the work we most want to do. They can keep us from doing our art. But the muses, they keep on pulling. “Come on!” they beg. “Let’s get up there and dance.”
Let the Muses Win
Every day we have a choice to make. Will we listen to the voice pulling us forward to create, to express, to put ourselves out there, or will we stay in the grass?
You can tell the muses to leave you alone, or you can let the muses win.
And now . . . three questions to help you bust through your creative blocks:
- If just today you let the muses win, how would that look in your life? What’s one thing you would do today to move forward in your creative pursuits?
- If just today your obstacles did not get the better of you, what would you do?
- If just today you were to make material progress toward your creative goals, what steps would you take?
When tomorrow comes, try asking the same questions. If you keep asking them and take action accordingly, you will make progress toward the things that matter most to you.
Who knows? If you let the muses win, you might end up having a good time.
Question: What’s one thing you can do today to move forward in your creative pursuits? You can leave a comment by clicking here.