Savoring the Silent Muse

Olympic torchAt the end of July, when the Olympics kicked off in all its glory, Muse blissfully executed several mesmerizing backflips, complete with multiple mind-blowing triple watusi twists.

Her heart flitted and fluttered, and her skin prickled with excitement as she remembered all the things she loved about the pursuit of excellence.

Her unbridled enthusiasm inspired a river of words to flow from this writer’s fingertips.

Then just as suddenly as Muse’s inspiration took hold, Muse quickly and purposely flitted away.

She didn’t disappear without a flourish though.

No. No. No.

In classic Olympic form, she leaped onto the balance beam, glided across, arms gracefully extended, toes pointed. Then she carried out several impossible flips and dips before finally sailing through the air, nailing an eye-popping dismount.

As she landed she shot me a knowing smile and whispered, “Balance, my friend. Balance. Remember there’s more to life than writing.” 

Huh? Wait a minute. Isn’t she supposed to inspire me to produce my most creative work and encourage me to write, write, and then write some more? 

“Step away from your computer,” she continued, “and savor these delicious weeks of summer with your friends and family.”

Why is she telling me to relax and focus on savoring summer?

Muse clearly knows me better than I know myself.

She’s been watching the ridiculous pace I’ve been keeping this summer, trying to squeeze in way too many events and activities in far too few hours, all the while trying to consistently produce fresh ideas for my blog every few days.

She has seen how in the midst of my blaze of daily activities that I’m often more focused on the end result rather than the journey. More than once she has cringed when she has seen me pay little attention to life’s gorgeous brushstrokes, and even less to its rich details.

Muse has also noticed the crown of hypocrisy I’ve been wearing. While I continually tell my daughter to slow down and enjoy what she is doing while she is doing it, rather than always focusing on what’s next, I continue to blaze on in perpetual motion, always thinking about what I should be doing next.

All of this has made Muse dizzy and cranky, especially as she has watched my mind spin like a hamster wheel. Knowing that blogging only perpetuates my need to be in constant mental motion, she has grown fussy and tired of trying to keep pace.

“If you’re not writing a post, you’re thinking about a post,” she has complained. “If you’re not thinking about a post, you’re worrying about when and what you should post next.”

I tried to ignore her annoying complaints, but Muse finally decided to put her foot down once and for all, the only way she knew how–by simply flitting away and wrapping me in a snug blanket of writer’s block.

Muse did not utter another word. She didn’t need to; her silence was clear: “Creativity needs time to percolate while living life, not just while writing about it. Turn off your computer and follow the advice you always give your daughter. Walk the walk instead of just talking the talk.”

So now you know why I haven’t been writing this past month. I’ve been living large—taking the advice of my wise and silent muse—savoring summer with my friends and family—enjoying life one slow tick on the clock at a time, and reveling in the richness of its myriad details.

Stepping away from my computer has allowed me to…

Savor a pile of books, devouring each word and delicious phrase, becoming inspired by the magic of other’s lives and imaginations.

It has allowed me to savor the Olympics and each memorable moment like the expression of joy and disbelief on Mo Farah’s face when he won both 10,000m and 5,000m races, and the childlike jubilation of our professional basketball players as they took home the gold against Spain—not to mention the impossible feats of the women’s gymnastics team and adorable Golden Gabby.

It has allowed me to savor champagne and live cello music in our backyard as our family celebrated my father-in-law’s 90th birthday.

Photo of Cellist for 90th birthday celebration

Stepping away from my computer has allowed me to…

Savor cannon balls, handstands and underwater tea parties in the swimming pool with my daughter as we’ve spent hours swimming together.

It has allowed me to savor impromptu glasses of wine in the street with our fabulous neighbors.

It has allowed me to savor the Spanish traditions of our town during its weeklong Fiesta celebration, puffing up with pride as our daughter became a Fiesta Flower Girl for the first time.

Santa Barbara Fiesta Girls

Stepping away from my computer has allowed me to…

Savor simple meals on our back patio with friends, often created with fresh local farmer’s market delicacies.

It has allowed me to savor training with my daughter for her first 5k race, enjoying the art of running purely for the joy of running and the bond it creates. It has allowed me to savor crossing the finish line together, fully appreciating what a huge accomplishment it was for her.

It has allowed me to savor a trip to my hometown in the Pacific Northwest and enjoy being wrapped in the simple joy and nonsense of my extended family and friends as we hang out together jabbering for hours, picnicking, and remembering all that we share.

Portrait of Becky and Olivia in Columbia River Gorge

Stepping away from my computer has allowed me to…

Savor our puppy growing from a tiny bundle of chocolate brown fur with needle teeth to a big lovable lug of goofiness.

It has allowed me to savor hours at the beach, swimming, jumping waves and boogie boarding with my friends and peeps. It has given me the opportunity to fully appreciate the awesomeness of my not-so-sure friend pulling on a wetsuit for the first time and the euphoria on another friend’s face as she caught the perfect wave.

Mostly it has allowed me to savor the details that make life so exquisite and reminded me there is more to life than writing.

Photo of my daughter at the beach in her wetsuit

Thank you dear Muse for silently slipping away and encouraging me to slow down, breathe deeply and enjoy each moment rather than thinking about writing my next blog post. You have forced me to walk the walk this summer, and the walk has been divine.