Taking the long way from Albuquerque to Saint Petersburg, Florida, the numbers look like this:
Many historical sites
Many more podcasts
6 visits with family and friends
4 national parks
2 West Coast Swing dances
2 Blue’s Clubs
1 Stadium Concert (Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper)
1 Iowa State Fair (complete with fire breathing cowboys and The Butter Cow!
1 accusation of being a “liberal feminist” by someone who knew me for less than 23 seconds
1 motorcycle rally
Not nearly enough pictures
All this with three sleeping muses.
Before jumping into what some might view as complaining, I would like to first state, unequivocally, “Wowww-weee. What a fantastic trip!” I saw parts of the country I never imagined I would see. I met people from these interior regions of these our states who have made me reconsider a thing or three. I saw scenic views of some extreme varieties, a few of which Ivan captured but most of which will forever exist only in my memory.
There were long stretches of heat and silence where nothing, absolutely nothing, crossed my mind. There were other long stretches of silence devoted to reflection and full acceptance of the choices I’ve made. And there were those glorious lung-shattering moments of belting out song after song with the windows down and the music up.
Setting out, I knew this journey was about getting ready. About clearing my emotional and spiritual closet and preparing for this next decade of life. Getting myself to that place of ready for whatever life lobs my way. And I know closet cleaning is best approached as an every-day thing. But after years of willy-nilly tossing experiences encountered and lessons learned into a heap, it was time to deal with the pile spilling out of the closet doors. Time to jump head first into the middle of the mess and sort through, organize, and make room for the experiences and lessons now lining up.
And so it has been. This trip was the jump start my heart needed to begin tackling the glorious mess I created. It feels good in that way only a good cleaning can give and my closet now stands open and ready for more experiences and more learnings. Can you hear it? “Bring it on world!” it bellows with a smile.
Now, if I may make an observation. And let me be clear. I am not complaining. But those three muses. The very ones who inspired this road trip and insisted on coming. They were unsettlingly quiet. Truly, other than the occasional tap on the shoulder reminding me to slow down and their attendance at all meals, they slept the entire way. 5,000 miles spent constantly looking back to make sure they were still there. I must say. I expected a little more.
I hear you. “A little more what?” you ask. Well, interaction for starters. Some interesting dialog. Maybe a recounting of an epic event by means of poetry. The sound of harps. Or flutes even. And well frankly, I expected a torrent of mind-blowing inspirational sparks hot enough to set water on fire. But here I am, still not sure what direction to go and struggling to find words. Of any kind.
I mean, how many times have I heard from those very creative people, variations on any one of the following themes: “Make room for the muses,” “Invite them in,” “Be available and they will come,” “Show them you mean it,” “Show up, do the work, and the muses will do the rest.” “Once you’ve got ‘em, never ever let go, because when the muses leave, they don’t always come back.”
At the risk of alienating the muses to the point they refuse to get back in their designated spots when Pegasus and I head out, how much more available could I have been? 50 days and over 5,000 miles. Together. All of us. And not a single spark. Not even a speckle of a fire storm. Stuck in Helena while Pegasus recovered, I showed up. Sitting in worn out beds in motels that hadn’t seen guests in weeks, I did the work. There we were, at the largest bike rally in the world and they wanted to stay in the car and sleep. “Have fun,” they yelled while I went walking, alone, into the vast sea of leather and tattoos.
And despite the disappointment, I still trust the wisdom of the creatives and hang on for life. I’m not letting go. Not for nothing. Those muses are still with me. Right this moment, they’re upstairs. In bed. Sleeping. Every night, I push them over a bit, begging for a sliver of the bed. I take the lumpy side out of respect. Try sleeping with three muses. For as much as they sleep, they also fidget. And I continue to devote to them time. An incredible amount of time. And still, no burning water.
Again, I hear you. “But Catherine,” you say, “Look at what you did. Where you went. What you saw. The experiences you had. And the reflections you shared with some of us. It’s going to take time for all that to filter through to inspiration.” And I hear you, over there off to the side and whispering in your friend’s ear, “Do you think she knows what inspiration looks like?” And you, up there in the cheap seats. Rolling your eyes and saying in every way but verbally, “Oh for Pete’s sake Catherine, get over it.”
And to your question of which three muses went on this trip, I honestly can’t say. It was an open invitation and they all look alike to me. Frankly, it’s possible that throughout the trip all nine may have rotated through at one point or another and swapped places. I don’t really know. From the start I figured they would introduce themselves but they never did. They just climbed into the back and went straight to sleep.
Do allow me to reiterate: I am not complaining. The road trip was unforgettable and I am grateful for many things. For all of the alone time and the long stretches. That there was only one breakdown. Grateful for the small insights that must have leaked from their sleeping heads and into my consciousness. But mostly I’m grateful there wasn’t room for all nine muses at once. Because no matter how much my closet gets cleaned, my ego can only handle being ignored by three at a time.
Perhaps you are right, you over there snickering. Perhaps this trip had nothing to do with me. Maybe it was all about the muses. Perhaps it was my role to serve them. To create for them a safe space with excellent music where they could rest. Something many of my friends and family have done for me over the years so I’m happy to pay it forward. I have seen some of the creative endeavors that abound in this world. I admit, those muses have been working hard and might be a bit tired.
To the muses who can fit in the backseat only three at a time. Eventually Pegasus and I will be on the road again. We have some new tunes, we have both had tune ups, and we can’t wait. You are of course most welcome to join. And no matter what, I shall continue to show up and do the work. I will not let go or lose faith or ever be anything less than grateful for your presence. If you need even more sleep, I shall ensure you have the space to do so. But really, would it be too much to ask for some, even a little, “rain down upon my head and shoulders water-igniting inspiration?”