No, I don’t mean Peoria and despite what it sounds like, Pieria is not a disease. It is an area of Greece that has been described as ‘watered by the springs flowing from Olympus’. It’s reported to be the birthplace of the daughters of Zeus, also known as the nine (or eight depending on who you talk to) muses. The muses “…all of one mind, whose hearts are set upon song and their spirit free from care, (sic) born a little way from the topmost peak of snowy Olympus.”
This week at every turn I’ve been hit with wave after wave of wisdom involving the mysteries of creativity and “the muse”. I’m not sure if the Olympics have inspired those who live by being inspired, but on the radio, in the paper, on TV, in newsletters and from Facebook, talk continues to involve creativity. It comes from actors, from writers, from artists and from neuroscientists.
Tom Waits on song-writing: “…every song has a distinctive identity that it comes into the world with—there are songs you have to sneak up on like you are hunting for a rare bird; there are songs that come fully in tact like a dream taken up through a straw; there are songs that you find in bits, like pieces of gum under a desk; and there are songs that need to be bullied.”
The ‘song’ in Waits’ description is separate from us. We don’t make it, we receive it, we discovery it, it lands on our shoulder, we wrangle it. It stems from an outside force–the muses? The Romans had Genii–genius–a tutelary deity or guardian that one has, not that one is. It is something for which we need to prepare a place.
Elizabeth Gilbert (author of Eat, Pray, Love) believes that inspiration is a force spinning around the earth waiting for an portal or an invitation to. You have to talk to it, cajole it and sometimes you have to ask it to wait until you are ready with pencil and paper.
John Cleese says: “Creativity is not a talent. It is not a talent, it is a way of operating….when I say ‘a way of operating’ what I mean is this: creativity is not an ability that you either have or do not have. ….. In investigating scientists, architects, engineers, and writers that those regarded by their peers as “most creative” the most creative had simply acquired a facility for getting themselves into a particular mood — “a way of operating” — which allowed their natural creativity to function….A particular facility as an ability to play. (5:11)
Indeed he described the most creative people (when in this mood) as being childlike. For they were able to play with ideas… to explore them… not for any immediate practical purpose but just for enjoyment. Play for its own sake.
Alan Alda— “Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You cannot get there by bus, only by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful: Yourself.”
It’s time to play. To be brave. To be off-balance and find center. To invite the muses or our genius to tea. And to discover what goes on in Pieria. Just bring a subject, anything at all. Fresh substrate may be easier, but choose as you will.