If inspiration comes in spurts, mine has sputtered out. The dreaded ‘writer’s block’ has filled the vacuum. Ideas are harder to find than hen’s teeth.
My daughter is an artist. She’s familiar with the illusionary Inspiration Muse, that fickle Siren who’s here today, gone tomorrow, taking all creativity with her. I call her for advice.
“Honey, can you arrange for an essence-stick séance? My Muse has abandoned me. How can I get her to return?”
“What’s the problem, dad?” she asks.
“I need inspiration. My ideas have dried up, the concepts are boring claptrap, and the news is senseless fodder. I’m desperate for content. Any thoughts?”
“Have you tried pound cake and ice cream?” She’s serious.
“Will that work?” I ask.
“Yes, definitely. Spike it with a hardy shot of brandy and drizzle a lot of extra sugar on top. Then follow Thomas Wolfe’s lead and write naked on top of the refrigerator. Give it a shot.” She laughs.
“Get serious. I’m on the edge of a deadline abyss.”
“Pop, use your imagination. Works every time. Concentrate on love, on romance, assuming you can remember that far back. Besides, there’s a full moon tonight. Go take a walk on the beach, meditate on some well-marinated romantic memories. That’ll resurrect your mercurial Muse.”
Meditate on love and romance? Interesting. Why not? Nothing else is working.
The shore is as dark and empty as my inspiration. Apparently no one else concentrates on love and romance at this hour. The tide is low, the sea is calm. A slight breeze tickles the tiny waves as they slide ashore. The moon’s reflection makes the water alive. It moves with an eerie cadence. I focus on love.
A vision materializes. A fraternity party, 1963. A summer night, same moon, another beach. Large secluded dunes beckon. A blonde, a blanket. Innocence is screaming to become experience for two naive college kids. Imagine it’s you.
You hold hands, talk of love. At nineteen, your knowledge of romance is shallow. But not the feelings. Your hearts beat fast. You gaze at the moonlit waters, feel the tender breeze. A brief silence full of possibilities descends. You whisper to her, “Do you have the same feeling I do?”
She squirms restlessly. Without hesitation she answers excitedly, “Yes! Yes!! Yes!!! I think ants are crawling on me.” The sacred moment vanishes.
You shake the blanket and retreat to the car. Innocence goes home alone that night, frustrated but hopeful for another opportunity.
Perhaps you remember a certain night in the mountains. Frosty air. Log cabin. Late fall. Leaves falling. No children. Inside candle flames dance on the walls. The fire is a pile of glowing orange embers. You both nuzzle closely on the sofa, mesmerized by the ambience and possibilities in this romantic moment.
You gaze into each other’s eyes. They reflect the flickering flames. You speak softly into her ear,“Are you thinking the same thing I am?” She sighs, and answers, “I was thinking that I forgot to change the cat litter.”
So much for fires, you think. You go outside, fire up the limp, half-smoked cigar you left lying on the rocking chair and ponder your golf game.
Weddings produce sacred moments. Perhaps you recall the one when you and she, both warm with champagne, dance until midnight? The band is playing “Fly Me to the Moon.” You hold each other closely. Her hand gently caresses your neck. Your arm hugs her waist tightly. You tingle with excitement.
In this rapturous moment you whisper with an impish grin, “Honey, I’m having thoughts of romance. What are you thinking?”
She kisses you on the cheek and replies, “I was thinking how many thank you notes this bride will have to write.” Your moon flight is delayed again. You retreat to the bar with the other guys who have similar stories to tell.
If there is a connection between inspiration and romance, perhaps it’s more like the triumph of hope over the reality of expectation. Keep looking!