Friday, October 2, 2009

The Nine Muses

I have made quite a point in my writing about the search for love being a quest to find a muse. I formed this opinion without knowing much about the original nine muses, so it seems only proper that I should learn something about them. I have recently done this (don’t ask me why I waited so long).

The muses were goddesses in Greek mythology who ruled over the arts and sciences. Each gave inspiration to poets and philosophers who studied her subject. More important than the names of the muses are the categories of arts and science over which they ruled. The division of knowledge into nine areas reflects the ancient Greek way of thinking and valuing certain fields. Three of the nine areas are poetry. The Greeks divided poetry into epic, love and sacred poetry. Each had a muse. There was a muse of tragedy, comedy, dance and music. So far, these are all arts -- areas of study in which emotions are equally as important as thoughts or ideas. The remaining muses gave inspiration in the two sciences of history and astronomy.

These nine fields represented knowledge as the Greeks conceived it. There never was a muse of weightlifting or tennis, twittering or blogging, cooking or road trips. This could be why I am having such a time finding a muse of my own. Greeks had to focus their endeavors on one of the acknowledged arts or sciences to win favor with the muses. Why, then, would I expect a release from this requirement in my own search? That’s just the way I am, I guess. And for this reason, my search has failed. Rather than looking for a woman who inspires me to write, lately I have been chasing one who inspires me to wander. All muses would frown on this.

The nine muses were goddesses born of Zeus, the lord of all Greek gods. Their mother was the goddess of memory, Mnemosyne. Muses were gifted with memory because in their time poets and philosophers had no books in which to record their work. They had to rely on memory and this is where muses came to their aid.

The fact that my memory is quite short gives an indication that my search for a muse is at least an appropriate strategy for correcting one of my flaws. My memory could use a lot of help. I seem to forget from infatuation to infatuation that I’ve been here, done this, and made these mistakes before. Only the on-line ID changes. The pattern is the same. I try to make muses out of everyone I meet. Mostly I meet women on line so I have become sort of a world-wide muse abuser.

Anyway, as they say in the recovery programs, it’s a bad habit until you know you have it. After that if you continue to do it, it becomes a character flaw. Awareness brings a higher responsibility and I am called upon now to stop this muse mongering of mine. No more confusing women with goddesses. It just makes the women nervous. I can only guess what the goddesses would think of it. Not much, I suspect. So I’m working on my memory. The thing that muses have in common is good memories. They get this from their mom. I have learned one thing from my travails with women who move me to obsession. When you are obsessed with someone, the best thing to do is become more like the thing for which you admire them. The quality that you find alluring is a quality that you probably lack. And by “you” of, course, I mean me.

These women I pursue represent the missing part of me. I pursue them instead of working on my own deficiencies. That is the crux of the problem. If I could become more pure of heart, more innocent and sincere myself, I wouldn’t find it necessary to move toward someone who has those qualities. And when I gaze at the physical grace of one of my Yoga teachers, who makes Yoga seem like one of the arts, I am looking at my own unrealized potential to become more poised and flexible myself.

In sum, I have found that the real cure for my obsession is to work on my own character. Becoming more well rounded is a goal that can keep you busy for life. In the process, you make yourself more appealing. Becoming better qualified to be the object of someone else’s obsession is better than blindly chasing your own. It will help you stop worshiping shadows on the cave of your elusive dream. That's how I'm spending my time today answering, “What are you doing?”

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