inspiration from the lack thereof


Sometimes, the well just runs dry. And that’s where I find myself tonight.

So, what does one do when there is no muse from which to draw? One makes the absence of the muse itself a muse.

You see, if there is awareness of a noun, then the reality of the matter is that the awareness of that noun shapes the way in which we see the world. The best and most concise example of this is found in the film Inception: if I ask you to not think about elephants, as Arthur asked Saito, one will default to thinking about elephants. This is because the concept of an elephant is there in the mind, affecting the way in which we understand the world around us. While we may not conjure up hallucinations of elephants, and we are still able to process what is going on in our respective worlds (for the sake of this matter, assuming a naive epistemic or even critical realist worldview; I do realize the door I left wide open there for the philosophy set), what will fill our mind is that which was requested to be verboten.

So it is with everything for which we may have affection: from the ones we love to a muse for a blog post. It is not that that noun is absent, it is just not here, which alters the way we process things. If you’ll pardon a brief theistic aside, God may not be omnipresent, and I don’t think God is; but those who claim to follow Christ are to be God’s dynamic presence in the world. So, as emissaries, we are God’s presence, or we are supposed to be. Quite a different conception than the typical City of God/Christendom approach, with greater personal responsibility and, frankly, more adventurous than a lame existence bound by the constraints of hegemony. A similar, non-denominational point can be made for the way one lives life: ennui is an excuse to remain in neutral and dulls one’s awareness to one’s vast potential to lead a dynamic, meaningful life for others.

And this is, I think, the perfect approach to life: in all things, being able to derive meaning from apparent meaninglessness. The very idea of this entry is courtesy a dear like-minded friend who reminded me of this very thing. Writing about having nothing to write about is in itself a subject, and an idea which can be explored and meandered through: since the muse is not present, we are yet thinking of the muse and able to go forward.

The muse’s presence in my life enables me to, and it is brought back precisely and paradoxically because it is not there. It is not, and yet is. p and ~p, with a friend bridging the gap and reconnecting me to the source. I find this to be a remarkable thing.

So it is with any number of things. The absence of baseball makes me excited for a new season for the Milwaukee Brewers. The prospect of returning to Memphis in a few months and seeing old friends makes me long for Beale Street musicians and Rendezvous barbecue. Seeing the first sign for Wisconsin on the road in December made me excited to return home. Being gone for a week made me long for my new home. Reading the scriptures inspires me to return to studying them. It’s not that the grass is greener on the other side, but that I place value in those things, and ascribe value to the people with whom those things are connected. The things themselves are only things, the people with whom I share those experiences matter most.

Even writing this, then, is not because I love writing (though I do.) It’s because I love to share my writings with the people who read them, because you matter far more than I do. And it is my singular honor to be a part of your life. Your absence–near or far, alive or alive elsewhere–moves me to strive to be better. Even if writing is about writing nothing at all, it’s not for writing; it’s for you. The well is never dry.

What is left unsaid can be fairly easily inferred from here.

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