Find your animal muse, but don’t tame it.
What animal is your muse?
Last night, after visiting Werribee Open Range Zoo, I realized my muse is a wild animal. She is something beautiful and eye-catching. There is a grace to her I cannot tie down.
My muse must be wild. Any tame animal will be too subdued, too controlled. I want my muse to surprise me. My muse will teach me and change me as I learn about her. The more I come to know her, the more she will offer me.
My muse is wild and free. She does not bow down to me and my needs. But she is consistent. If I show up day after day looking for her, she will show herself.
Whilst learning about her, I must come many times looking, and be prepared to miss her more often than not.
She is cautious at first, maybe showing nothing more than a glimpse. I must still myself and open my senses. Only then can I hope to see or hear her.
When I catch that first glimpse or that first wild cry, I must not leap to my feet, waving my arms and telling everyone I know. That will surely scare her away, never to return.
She may not let me know she knows I am here, but she does.
Instead, I must soak in the sights, sounds and smell of her. In my notes, I should record what I have seen, heard, and smelt, along with where and when. If I’m lucky and return to the same spot, maybe she will be there too.
If my muse sees I am part of a group, she is unlikely to show. She knows my scent. Is familiar with how I move, how I breathe.
If she senses I am tense, or angry, or desperate, she may retreat. Only when I stay completely still might she approach.
Even then, I should not expect it. She is wild, after all. That is why I love her, why inviting her company is so important.
Only with great patience can I hope to learn about her.
Even when I don’t go looking for her, she might show herself. I need to be open to seeing her, not staring down at my phone. She may appear in my peripheral vision, a brief glimpse. I might hear her cry if my ears remain open to it.
I might only see signs of her passing. Trampled grass or where she has released her scent. When this happens, I should not mourn the fact. I should rejoice in the recognition, and hope that next time we may meet.
When she trusts me, I may try to feed her.
I must be careful not to feed my muse with junk. She may eat, but it will destroy her beautiful coat and dull her keen eyes.
I should learn what food will make her thrive. Music, art, dance, theatre, pictures, poetry, novels, sculpture — her diet may be omnivorous or not.
In feeding her, I must not make her dependent on the food. She must still be free, and wild, and able to fend for herself.
The worst thing I can do is to capture her. Taming her will kill her soul. Whatever I can extract from her then will be of poor quality. She will yearn to escape, and if she does, I will not see her again.
One day, she may decide that she must go her own way. I must remember this and be grateful for everything she teaches me.
What animal is your muse?