A Muse Emerges

Now that Muse in May is underway, I have decided to talk a little about how I discovered my muse. I often hear people explain that they are not themselves when they are at their most creative, and I must admit that for me, it feels the same most of the time. But as I have grown older and explored myself more, I have discovered that it’s only me living up in this noggin. There isn’t really another person, and I am a lot more complicated than I sometimes realize during the mundane activities of day to day life.

 

For as long as I can remember, I have been an emotionally charged person. Rage, fear, love, passion, basically any emotion that Yoda himself would tell you to steer clear of, brought out a different side of me. I would feel disassociated, like I was watching myself from far away, thinking, “Girl, you are crazy.” I have been doing it since Kindergarten; it’s always been a part of me. I would keep all of my stronger feelings to myself, and one day, BOOM! Something would get to me, and everything came spilling out. And when it was all over, regardless of what was said or how I behaved, I felt so much better. Unfortunately, I left a damage path a mile wide at times, and that couldn’t continue forever. I knew I had to make that part of me go away, permanently, but I had no idea how.

As I got older, I tried to control that more and more, because I didn’t want to seem “crazy”.  The one thing I did as a child to cope with such strong feelings was to pretend I was someone else, somewhere else. I didn’t have to be Dea, stuck in a difficult situation that I felt like I couldn’t handle. I could be Laura Ingalls, or Princess Leia, or Queen Elizabeth I, or She-Ra the freakin’ Princess of Power. I would try to handle the situation how I thought they might handle it. It became such a comfortable place that I spent most of my childhood in an imaginary world. It carried over into adolescence.  I remember thinking that maybe there really was something wrong with me, because it felt like I could never just be myself, in my real circumstances. There was always some fantasy component to it. At the age of sixteen, I assumed it would stop when I graduated high school. At the age of twenty-five, I thought, “Surely, any day now, I will grow up and face reality.” At thirty, I thought that maybe thirty-five would be the magical number that would make it stop.

Well, guess what? I turned thirty-five last year, and not a lot has changed. But one thing has: Somewhere in my late twenties, I figured out that I wasn’t pretending to be someone else anymore. Those thoughts were mine; they came from my mind and I lived them. Working an extra long shift till four a.m. behind the bar? It was a lot easier when I was Dea, the super spy, keeping an eye on the Russian mob that ruled that establishment. (And speaking in a Russian accent garnered me a LOT of tips; that was a bonus.) At a job interview, I was Dea, the poised, stylish actress, studying for a role as an insurance agent, and I needed to do the job for character study.  My adoring fans were waiting just outside to see how it all went. But always, I remembered I was Dea.

Something else changed, too. I started to change my way of thinking from “If only I could” To “What if I could.” I stopped becoming afraid to try new things, and I found that I was thinking of the “real” me whenever I was trying something new. I no longer did things the way I thought someone else would, I did them the way I thought I should. The two halves were beginning to merge. Maybe someday I really could be Dea, the singer/songwriter, or Dea the novelist. I found myself thinking, “Well, why can’t I?” and then going off to see what I might accomplish.

So, what about all of the negative emotions, you ask? What happened to that periodic damage path? Well, when I was angry, I learned I had to make a conscious choice: Be angry and let that rage flow through me, or let it run off like water onto a piece of paper, and watch a song, or a poem, or a painting come to be. So I started doing that. My imagination has never gone away, and I consider that to be my strongest suit in the realm of creativity. I have never lost interest in “playing pretend’. As a matter of fact, right now, I am sitting here feeling the vibe, pretending that I am the most rockin’ columnist in the world, keeping my loyal readership in the know about all things that cool people should know. It’s silly, but it’s fun and I really enjoy it.  Besides, who says I’m not the coolest writer in the world? I know my readership rocks, so it’s not such a stretch. (This is where I have to ask you all to forget that Dorothy Parker or Oscar Wilde ever existed, thank you very much!)

And this is why my muse is called Kaia, Hawaiian for “The Sea”. Because when I really am in that mode where I feel like I am going out of myself, I find that I have matured into a person that doesn’t always pretend that they are a super hero or a pretty princess in a tower. I find myself thinking that I am like the water, peaceful and calming, ebbing and flowing, controllable as long as you give me a course to follow.  At times I feel like fire, and I want to smash something, but I literally envision myself as water, and then I am ready to channel all of that energy into something creative. I have always had a deep love for water, and I find that simply sitting by a creek, or a lake, or the ocean is the fastest way for me to feel like myself. To feel calm, and rational, and connected to the world around me in a tangible way.

And most importantly, I have realized that Dea the suburban stay-at-home mommy and Kaia the dazzling water entity are one and the same. Two sides to the same coin, and one would be miserable without the other. Lately, Dea the suburban mommy has had some decidedly not so suburban experiences, because Kaia refuses to let her settle. I know it seems contradictory, insisting that my muse is not really separate from me and then giving her a name. But I am a child of the water, and Kaia is what I would have named myself if someone would have asked me about it on the day I was born. (But nooo…smack me on the bottom, toss me to my mum, and let her decide how to style me….totally unfair.)

The point is this: The minute I stopped running from who I was, or trying to say it really wasn’t me and wishing it would change, is the moment my muse emerged. The key to finding that part of you is acceptance of yourself and who you are, ALL of you, not just the “normal” bits. Like I said, I was always creative, but it wasn’t until I accepted the fact that Miss Kaia and myself are one and the same that I had the courage to go and put myself out there for the world to see. Two years ago, I would have never had the guts to write a column for people to read. Now I feel like I would suffocate if I couldn’t let that part of me get out and play at least once a week.

So I walk through this life, experiencing everything as both Dea and Kaia. One eye sees the surface, the color of the sky, the crowd milling on the sidewalk, the traffic moving on the street. The other sees an ever moving, ever changing celebration of life, a beautiful, cosmic rhythm in every single experience. And when it gets to be too much, and the everyday sight is dimming, Kaia crashes over me like a wave and reminds me to keep pushing forward, to see the beauty, and tell everyone else what I see in my own unique way. The two need each other; without the rational side of me, Kaia would be nothing but an instrument of destruction and pain. And without Kaia, I would be a husk, moving and breathing and existing, but never really living. It was tough before the two learned to coexist, but it’s been amazing since I embraced both and came to understand that it’s all me, both sides now and forever. And I get so excited when I come across someone like me, because I feel a kindred bond that I can’t explain and sometimes it moves me to tears. I wouldn’t be Dea without Kaia, and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Peace.