Sunday, March 3, 2013

Finding your muse in unexpected places

Have you ever found your muse in the most unexpected place?
Two weeks ago, I left newsroom deadlines far behind me as I drove solo the 375 miles to Dad's in Spokane. With my favorite music providing a soundtrack to my journey, I had the luxury of an entire day to myself and my thoughts.

In the flat land about 20-30 miles north of the Tri Cities on Highway 395, a sign to an obscure road caught my eye: Muse Road.

It struck me as ironic because The Columbia Basin landscape of flat, treeless desert stretched onward as far as I could see. And even though I'm a country girl who appreciates the beauty in nature, Muse Road seemed to be in the middle of uninspiring scenery.

Muse Road! Really? How could anyone fine her muse here, in this stark landscape?

I'd considered pulling over to take a photo of the Muse Road sign surrounded by miles of desert, but I didn't want to lose any time.

Later, I commented to my friend, Kirby Records, that the desolate landscape around Connell, Washington seemed an unlikely place to find one's muse. Kirby is a man who chooses to venture off the beaten path to see what adventures might be hidden from view. His response made me realize that as I zipped along 395, I'd missed missed an opportunity to see what was just beyond my peripheral vision.

"Up above Connell along 395 is a deep canyon along the side of the freeway," Kirby started his story. He often starts with a story.

"And all these little draws lead down into it. The freeway has been leveled so people driving on the freeway don't really notice the draws and only get a glimpse of the canyon once in awhile," he said.

"I see wonderful places to explore in these rocky-edged draws," he continued. He went on to tell me stories of finding amazing surprises in the desert: spending the night in a cave, finding a hot springs and a hidden campsite on top of a cliff.

Kirby's words made me think about how I sometimes prevent myself from being open to an experience because I've already made up my mind about something--such as thinking inspiration is incongruous with a desert landscape. And not having the vision to notice a breathtaking canyon just beyond my view.

I also was reminded of the words of Jane Kirkpatrick, my dear friend and an accomplished, published writer. Jane often speaks of being open to allowing ourselves new experiences, rather than to let preconceived ideas determine our response to what we're seeing.

Instead of speeding through the desert landscape and labeling it "boring" and "uninspiring," I should have opened my eyes and noticed the spectrum of colors painted across the sky and the undulating desert floor.

Now I'm wishing I had stopped to take that photo of Muse Road surrounded by desert.The next time I come upon something that on first glance seems uninspired, I will take the time to reconsider my point of view.

Below, courtesy of Kirby, is a photo he took of an inspiring landscape hidden from view of the main road in the Eastern Oregon desert. Now, after hearing his stories, I'm ready to explore desert landscape and see what stories it might inspire me to write.

The following link is another writer's blog post about identifying and caring for your muse.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't that the dilemma? Keep driving to stay on time or pull over, slip the keys in a pocket and head off for a walk or run down Muse Road.