Monday, September 13, 2010

Life Support & The Muse Chromosome

The other day I caught an online talk with Amy Tan (here), author of a few of my favorite books (The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, Bonesetter's Daughter, and Saving Fish From Drowning). Given her rather droll sense of humor, it was the delightful chat I expected it to be. However, one small phrase really struck me. She mentioned that some of us seem to have been born with a Muse Chromosome. As I laughed, I also hollered, "Yes! That's it!!" (I often talk to the ghosts in the machine.)

It makes such sense. For so long I denied that I was an artist, that I was a writer, that my need for creativity really meant anything. It wasn't until I acknowledged these things as part of me (and really, they were there all along), that I felt whole. Not whole in a sense of finding myself, but whole as in the puzzle pieces finally clicking together. My internal Rubik's Cube, at long last, lined up just so. It wasn't a great soul-rocking epiphany, it was simple acknowledgment that I was born with this and born for this. It really wasn't that much different than my acceptance of the fact that I tend to be an overly emotional soul - I cry just as easily as I laugh. It wasn't different from recognizing the fact that I'm empathic to other people's pain.

The great boon was that once I accepted it, I was able to actualize it. I think that's key for any of us with anything. After all, how can we be anything to which we don't accede? Giving that part of me permission to exist was like being reborn. As a result, I've taken a good long look into my self to see if there are other unborn bits, other amorphous zygotes just waiting around to be granted an existence.

It's as simple as this. If you don't know the lay of the land upon which you stand, how can you decide on a direction? No wonder so much of my life felt stilted and unfulfilling. I was grounded for life instead of being grounded in life.

I have a Muse Chromosome. I have an irrefutable thing in me that makes me create stuff. I can no more deny that, or deny myself that, than I could deny that I have blue eyes. It's just the way it is. I'm only happy that I figured it out before it was too late. It's not just about being an artist or a writer, it's about being wholly me.

What extra "chromosome" do you have? What are you doing to nurture it?

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
~e. e. cummings

1 comment:

  1. i think i have a garlic chromosome... Anyone who's eaten at my house would tell you that there's very little i don't put garlic in, like maybe cake.
    Actually, i feel a lot like you do - this art thing i do, i HAVE to do, it's in there deep and is a big part of ME. i've always been creative, always like to have a project going. i decided a long time ago that i hated the feeling of boredom and would do what i could to get rid of that in my life. Life's too short to sit around feeling bored!
    And recognizing myself as an artist (as opposed to hobbyist or cafter) helped open me up, and my art.
    Great post!

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