Harnessing the Muse

We have all experienced those fleeting moments of intense inspiration when the vibrancy of our ideas overwhelms us. We frantically scratch pen to paper, afraid we will only be gifted with milliseconds of such potent creativity. And then, like appreciating the passing smell of damp earth in Spring, or the brief sensation of warm sun through the window on a cold January day, it is gone. The richness of the fertile soil is replaced by the annoying sensation of dirty water in our shoes. The warm sun disappears exposing the frigid reality of frozen mud and old snow. If only we could have held that moment in our minds for a little longer. What other revelations would find us worthy of exploration?

For someone who believes that creativity is a form of religious experience—a way to encounter the divine spark that fuels the fire in our bellies—harnessing such moments is of paramount importance. But we must have tools to do so. The most powerful of these are belief, value, and joy.

Belief: Are you special? Do you deserve to be creative? Do you deserve to be an artist? The moment you answer “no” is the moment you suffer a little death—the child within gives up its last breath. These are not questions that matter. The question that matters is, “What are you?” And if you answer, “I am a creative entity,” you must believe it.

Value: Inherent within any successful undertaking is the knowledge that effort is subordinate to purpose. If what we do has no value it subtracts from our integrity.  Commit yourself to a task devoid of value and you are doomed to reach a moment of self-realized purposelessness. This cannot be. You must know, deeply and resolutely, that what you do matters. If you do not believe you are being gifted with an idea worth sharing the muse will not return.

Joy: Creation is an act of joy; destruction is an act of despair. Joy fuels productivity; self-doubt fuels inactivity. When a child plays there is no effort and no hesitation. It is simply play. What a powerful substance courses through their veins. If creativity and play co-exist within us what possibilities cannot be made practical?

What we experience in those rapturous moments is a confluence of these three sensations. We believe that we deserve to be creative; we believe that the product of our creation has value; and we feel joy. In the end we realize that the muse doesn’t exist. It is just us, alone, with our perception.  If we can appreciate these moments with such awareness perhaps they will be less transient.


Reptilians… Really?

My aunt and uncle taught me how to be a legitimate film buff when I was thirteen. The process began months in advance with previews of the epic, visually stunning, sure to be classic, Independence Day. The imprint upon my psyche from this experience was further empowered by my lack of exposure to this very unusual, and apparently interactive, thing called the internet. My uncle would navigate seamlessly through a maze of actor interviews, character bios, and special effects teasers, while I pestered him with too many questions.

When opening midnight finally arrived I found myself sitting in a sold out theater sipping a soda and carefully pacing my consumption of skittles. An aura of excitement filled the room with chattering waves of anticipation. Months of Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum indoctrination coursed through my veins. Like a small trout that was raised on a farm, pumped into a tanker truck, and released into a stream just in time for trout season, I was hooked. I knew, deep down, that I would always like aliens.

It is natural then, that stumbling upon the reptilian conspiracy at the age of 30 was a vibrant enough experience to lower my productivity level from an already unimpressive 34%, to a staggeringly bad 12%, for an entire afternoon.

Here is some classic Draconian fare courtesy of VICE:

If you didn’t make it all the way through, don’t worry. Here is all you need to know:

  • There is a predatory reptilian race
  • They feed on human energy (including satanic sacrifice)
  • They are particularly fond of children (again for feeding)
  • They are turning us into a slave race
  • Their base is on the moon from where they are broadcasting a signal that clouds our ability to accurately perceive reality (unbeknownst to most of us, especially astronomers, the moon is a hollowed out planetoid)

An idea this full of possibility is destined to self-replicate like a virulent virus. It is easy to imagine the scene unfolding:

“Reptiles?” Jim says to Harry, “And they’re aliens?”

“Yup, I was skeptical at first too. But it’s crazy, man. George Bush is one. Just watch this video.”

All kidding aside, including the wondrous header declaring “Bush called on lawmaker to quickly pass a financial ball out package,” and regarding digital pixilation, the evidence is quite un-compelling. Let’s try this:

This poor fellow does have a Voldemort look going on, but lizard alien? Not convinced. One final try:

As far as I can tell, the most disturbing part of this video is the subject of their “reporting.”

In the end, the pertinent question appears to be, why wouldn’t alien lizards broadcast a signal from the moon that turns susceptible humans into paranoid delusionists and inspires them to spend hours analyzing six year old MSNBC footage?

The answer, of course, is common sense.

My inner thirteen year old self and I re-watched Independence Day recently. He had a soda and I had a pumpkin ale. Together we pondered why the prospect of an alien apocalypse filled us with such delight. Our answer was simple. It is easy to recognize the evil occurring in the world. It is easy to observe the inequality humans impose upon other humans. It is easy to feel disillusioned by deteriorating race relations. It is easy to internalize our feelings of helplessness. It is not easy to answer the question—why? Wouldn’t it be so much better if we could all come together, preferably as amateur pilots in F-16 fighter jets, and fight a common enemy? So… why not alien lizard Satanist’s?