I watched Xanadu last night and it always makes me fairly emotional because The idea of a Muse is a very real thing to me. I wrote this story a number of years ago. I know I usually write fun/happy little bits of whimsy here but this isn’t, however it is very special to me. I seldom have asked anything of my readers but if you would please take the time to read this and if it affects you in any way please also take the time to leave a comment…I don’t care if you leave Kudos but I’d like comments.
WHAT OF THE MUSE?
BY TOM MATTEVI
A muse once kissed me. I know this sounds trite and cliché but I am not speaking in some lofty terms or in a symbolic way. I was truly kissed in the physical sense by a muse. Truth to be told she kissed me many times. The first was many years ago and although she may not have been a daughter of Zeus she still served the purpose. She entered my life, took control, and inspired me in ways that no other ever had. While she was with me I was more creative than at any other time of my life. And then, without warning she was gone. She broke my heart as well as my spirit and, at least in my mind, all the creative connections I had. She hovered at the borders of my life occasionally bisecting my orbit only to burn brightly then arc away like a fleeting glimpse of some distant comet. Her gravity never affecting me in the way it had originally. In those ensuing years I have greatly missed her touch on my life though I realized that her influence might not have been quite as productive as I may have thought at the time. Still the influence she had on my life and specifically the creative aspects there in cannot be questioned. I wrote, spoke, and acted more in those months she was fully in my life than at any time before or since.
Many stories are told of the power of the muse and the influences that they have over the lives of creative people. Occasionally we even hear the more tragic stories of the lives after the muse has left the person with nothing but memories and emptiness. I will not bore you with my personal story of that type. No, the story I will tell is one that is seldom if ever told. What of the muse? What becomes of the person who inspires and departs? This story usually is unavailable as once a muse has moved on they are not usually heard from again. That is not the case in my life. My muse has stayed in contact with me. Thus here is the story of my muse post-me.
She has been called by many names over the years. For what is a name to any save those who call it or answer to it. For our purposes I shall simply refer to her as “My Muse”. I’ve already mentioned her entrance and exit from the central sphere of my life. She moved on to inspire and, perhaps destroy, other lives. No, that is wrong. For as devastated as her departure left me it also proved to be the catalyst to strengthening me. Physically, emotionally, and spiritually I am a much stronger individual today than I was when she entered my life. But, once again, I digress. This is about My Muse.
When one would first meet her she seemed so self-assured, so in charge, so strong. Maybe that was a façade, a way to keep the unworthy at a distance. Once you got to know her you found a much more fragile and vulnerable side, which begged to be coddled and nurtured. In return she helped augment creativity by inspiration. Even after her departure from my life I was inspired to put to paper the pain and anguish, which had replaced the love and caring I had written of during her tenure.
Make no mistake that she was in total charge of this relationship. It began at her beckoning and ended on her whim. My wants, needs, or desires did not enter into the equation in any way. And yet despite the pain she caused me I found I could not wholly abandon her. When she had need of me all she had to do was call and I would endeavor to solve her problems. Blow fuses, broken televisions, installation of shelves, repair of fans or other small appliances (And don’t ask about balancing her checkbook, THAT was a nightmare I do not wish do dwell upon); whatever the problem I would give it my best shot and usually find a way to fix it. And then she would once again vanish from my life until she once again needed my assistance.
Some of her problems were beyond my ken. Case in point, she is afflicted by Multiple Sclerosis. Not only did I have no idea how to help her, medical science did not either. But when she needed a friendly face, a sympathetic ear or just a hug I was there for her.
She was haunted by demons of her own most of which fed off of the insecurities and pain she tried so desperately to hide from everyone. It was these demons that often caused her to enter into arrangements, which were not in her own best interest. She married for the wrong reason, divorced soon after, found herself pregnant with twins, and after their birth embroiled in a constant battle for custody and thus started a downward spiral. Her self-esteem, strength, health, and life in general plummeted until she could no longer function independently.
I visited My Muse today. She currently resides in a nursing home. No person as young and vital as she should have to do this, yet here she is. The MS has totally kicked her ass. One of the few things we do know about MS is that it feeds on stress. The more stressful a person’s life the stronger the MS gets. My Muse’s life has been three years of non-stop stress. Her MS has been in a feeding frenzy. She is legally blind. She can no longer walk, or even stand without assistance. She is in constant pain and suffers from constant shaking of the extremities to the point she has a hard time performing even the simplest tasks. She can still feel, dream, hope, remember, think, talk, smile, cry, and laugh which speaks volumes of her character.
During my visit she was put into a wheel chair by a nurse’s aide so that I might take her for a trek within the confines of the building to a place a bit less antiseptic. We talked of the times we have had and those we hope to yet experience. She spoke of her situation. Of her feelings of loss, loneliness, and desperation. I watched my muse as she tried not to weep while she spoke of the life that might have been. I showed her my brave face as her eyes filled with tears, which spilled out onto her cheeks as she said, “This is not the life I would have chosen. This is not the way it was supposed to be!” And I was thankful that she could not see my eyes as they filled with tears when she said, “It is so good to see you. No matter where I am or what happens you always come to visit me. I can always count on you. You have been through so much with me. Please promise me that won’t change.” And promise her I did. Soon after she began to feel fatigued and so I wheeled her back to her room. I needed to leave and rejoin the real world. I gave her several long hugs then just before I departed My Muse, once again, kissed me.
I will keep my promise and I will be there for her. What else can I do she is still My Muse. And if there was ever any doubt I can prove it. She inspired me to write THIS!
Thanks for reading this. I promise I’ll try to be funny again next time.