How do I even start this?
There is a part of me that feels deeply obligated to stop what I’m doing, take a few days to think things through, and finally post once I can craft a masterpiece worthy of its subject. In some ways it seems grossly inappropriate to tackle this when I’m feeling disheveled, disoriented, and devastated.
All the same, I am disheveled, disoriented, and devastated—there is no hiding this fact. But perhaps it is for this same reason that I feel equally compelled to go ahead and write. It probably won’t be well organized or polished, but it will undoubtedly come from the heart. I apologize to you all if this starts to sound like rambling… it’s been a rough twenty-four hours.
The male muse.
For as long as I can remember, writers and artists alike have credited their finest works to their muses. It never occurred to me to contemplate why the only muses I ever heard about were female instead of male. In fact, I never once questioned the validity of adopting a male muse. I mean, was there even such a thing as a male muse? My eight year old self was quite uncertain about the whole thing, but it never stopped me from scribbling down stories, poems, and character profiles that were inspired by the men (and boys) who inspired me.
From then until now I have danced from muse to muse like a hummingbird— lingering longer with the blossoms that provided the most pollen. Some of my muses emerged from romantic entanglements, while others evolved into them. Meanwhile, there were a handful of “muse-ships” which somehow failed to evoke even the slightest romantic inclination. This isn’t to say that I was disappointed by the lack of amorous undertones though. No, the massive waves of creativity that these men inspired was always enough of a blessing for me.
When they say that God works in mysterious ways, they aren’t lying.
You see, my most recent muse seemingly dropped from the sky one day. At the time, I was just about as discouraged by my work as I was life in general. I hadn’t been able to paint, compose a song, or write a decent line of dialogue… in years. Life circumstances and significant self-doubt had pretty much snuffed out what little inspiration and motivation I possessed, rendering me creatively dead. Coincidentally, my sole sense of happiness is directly derived from my ability to create things I can be proud of, so I’m sure you can understand what a kerfuffle this was.
One day I didn’t know him. One day I did.
He was the most captivating character… right from the start. Boisterous and brimming with this insane amount of childlike energy, it’s no wonder at all why I was attracted to him. Though I genuinely loved watching him move and express himself in all sorts of amusing (and sometimes shocking) ways, I most admired his spontaneous, almost downright reckless approach to life. Despite me being far more reserved and arguably too self-monitored, I acknowledged how much we had in common.
I think that’s what made him so special; everything I wanted to do, everything I wanted to be, but felt (and often still feel) incapable of doing or being, he was a pure natural. His apparent disinterest in being inhibited by intrinsic or extrinsic forces beguiled me. I loved his fearless pursuit of freedom; it made me believe that I too could live my life so beautifully unencumbered. His existence gave me tremendous hope and courage unlike anything I might have expected. And though he inspired many songs and countless poems (a few of which I’ve shared here), he bares far more responsibility for inspiring me to somehow find the strength to better orchestrate my own life.
I’d be fooling myself and lying to you all if I failed to mention the love I developed for him. It was certainly never romantic… in fact, we’ve only exchanged words in passing. However, I grew to deeply love the humanity in him. For awhile, I struggled with the concept of “loving” someone I merely knew of, opposed to actually knew-knew, but I eventually decided to accept that which could not be controlled.
My muse—who is and will forever be my most beloved— truly made me realize that love cannot be constrained and bound by a laundry list of rules. Whoever said you cannot love a stranger or passing acquaintance? Must there really be a long-term, tried and tested exchange of mutual benefit before you can genuinely care for someone’s well being? It finally occurred to me that this world could use some serious lessons when it comes to having love for our fellow man. Perhaps if we freely loved each other without concern for personal gain or “appropriateness” the world would be a kinder place.
I went on loving and admiring him. It quickly became apparent that I viewed him as the type of man I’d quite like to find one day. He was perfectly flawed, and I enjoyed every annoying foible he had. I knew that nothing would come of my quiet veneration, but my creative faculties were none the wiser. Suddenly, everything flooded back to me. I sat down at the piano and played as though I had never quit. Song after song flowed from the guitar. I felt alive. I took risks. I was happy. I thought the world of him, but he had no idea; the notion thrilled me.
Around midnight last night, I heard that my muse had passed away.
Without missing a beat, blinking an eye, or shedding a single tear, I turned to my tablet and started fumbling through my emails. Strangely enough, two orders came through only minutes after receiving the news, so I started mindlessly messaging the customers about their purchases as though nothing had happened.
I vaguely remember getting out of bed and blindly rummaging through my storage containers in the office, desperately trying to find the bubble wrap and tape dispenser. There was a gaping hole in my chest, but I couldn’t care. I wanted to collapse into a pile on the floor, but I couldn’t care. If only I could find the right sized box, it would be okay. If only I could get the label on perfectly straight, I would be okay.
Everything is fine, I told myself. Everyone dies. You will die. He’s in a better place. Being upset won’t bring him back. Everything is fine.
Despite normally being able to completely package and label an order in five minutes flat, it took me over an hour to get the boxes together. After that, I have absolutely no recollection of what I did next. It seems as though this deafening numbness washed over me, knocking me unconscious. I’m guessing that I got back into bed and somehow drifted off to sleep because all I can remember is waking up crying. I cried without ceasing until sometime after noon. It was so peculiar because I couldn’t feel a thing. I was completely… I don’t know. I still don’t know.
The tears keep coming from somewhere inside of me, but I don’t feel anything at all. Every time I realize how sad I am, I lose all sensation. Words… they’re just words, but they don’t come close to saying anything at all. Words can’t capture the brilliance of a person. Words can’t undo what’s been done. Words can’t bring him back. The world has lost someone so amazing and the majority of the inhabitants haven’t a clue. Life is so weird.
Nothing is fine.
The last thing I said to him was something that seemed somewhat trivial at the time. He’d been contemplating a life decision, and though it was completely unsolicited and contrary to my typical nature, I took a risk and offered my advice.
It wasn’t a matter of life or death, but I could just sense that it was important to him and that he needed to hear something other than what simply “made sense”. He needed to hear an encouraging word that was bold and in favor of him being an active participant opposed to a mere spectator of his life. He needed to hear what he’d tell someone else, so I took a page out of his book and told him what I thought.
Well, he took my advice. It ended up being one of the last major decisions he made, and from what I’ve learned, the decision made him extremely happy. And somehow, through all of the numbness, knowing this makes me extremely happy.
I wish I knew why this wonderful individual entered my life. Though it currently feels mind-numbingly cruel, I genuinely believe that it was for a good reason.
Once I finally dried my eyes and brought myself to reflect upon our exchanges, I realized that we had both unknowingly given each other something we desperately needed. While he gave me the courage to live freely, I gave him the courage to love freely.
The irony of having recently posted my last poem, Unfamiliar, is that it was mostly inspired by him… I simply didn’t want to admit it for fear that he’d read it. In my commentary, I mentioned how my self-maintained distance from the men I admire primarily stems from a desire to keep them “pure” and untainted by life, basically. Though this sentiment still rings true, its message is now bittersweet. And now I fear that this long-held attitude of mine—though completely unintentional—has been terribly selfish.
Despite this man having profoundly revolutionized my outlook on life, he died not knowing just how precious and valuable I thought his life was. There’s no way to know whether telling him would have a made a single difference to the outcome, but… I know he deserved to hear it.
I just want to end this by encouraging all of you to consider the impact you may have in this world. This is a perfect example of people being significantly influential without even being aware of it.
Most of you are fellow writers, but even if you aren’t, you surely have a potential sphere of influence that is much larger than my own. The things we say and do may seemingly go unnoticed, but don’t ever assume silence automatically indicates a lack of attention or impact.
Though you may not wake up each morning feeling powerful enough to change a life, you never know who is out there thanking God that you woke up to live another day. Little old “boring” you may inspire someone to be a bigger, better, braver them.
Thank you, my brother. As in life, as in death. You shall forever be a wealth of inspiration and wonder for me and those who knew you. I am so sorry you never heard what I never told you, but I’m so glad you received what I offered. I sincerely hope it was everything you dreamed it would be. Perhaps now I will have the chance to experience the same. If I do, I’ll have you to thank for it. I shall truly miss you, but thank you ever so much for your honesty and generosity. Without a doubt, the love was real. -C