Inspiration crept into my room last night. I was sleeping soundly when I felt the gentle pull on my eyelids and the movement of breath against my face—like coffee and mint and green, green grass mixed together. I was hardly offended.
When my eyes fluttered open I saw her there, staring excitedly. She spoke in broken English, but not really broken English. Pieces of poem and slices of sentence and parts of a paragraph spilled from her mouth puddling themselves on my just-washed sheets. She whispered promises. She promised me eloquent language; and she would give it to me, all of it.
If I only trusted her.
If I only let her pull me from my bed, limb by limb, and carry me away through the window.
And I was excited, but sleepy too. Because the hours, while technically morning, were still cloaked in a heavy night. So my body resisted my heart’s enthusiasm and politely asked inspiration to just sit tight for a little while.
But you know the end of this story.
You know that inspiration doesn’t sit tight.
She danced away pulling her beautiful language behind her—an elaborate train on her pristine wedding dress, the marriage to which I neglected to say “I do.”
So when I woke up this morning in actual morning I noticed the lighting in my room was all wrong. The spot where she stood when she had kissed me was frighteningly ordinary and the places on my face where she touched me were humming no longer.
I missed her terribly.
When I was little I was acutely aware of these moments. I knew how tragic the vanishment of an inspired thought could be; the equivalent of a dropped ice cream cone or an escaped balloon, my heart hurt for those evaporated thoughts.
To reassure myself, I created a theory at age seven that all of those thoughts are collected in a bucket. And when we finally die, that bucket is returned to us. The fuller those buckets, the freer those thoughts were to flow, the more open your heart was allowed to be. Because for every thread of inspiration you are able to grasp, there are a hundred threads (at least) in that bucket. For the better you become at catching those thoughts—I suggest a mason jar to study and learn from and experience—the more clever the others will become. And the ones that got away will grow your bucket heavier and heaver.
When we fly away from here, that’s how we gauge a life well-lived. That’s how we can feel and know and believe if our time has been a job well done. Our buckets, like our hearts, will be full to the brim.
So now, the trick with this creating is telling inspiration, “No. Don’t go. I know it is late and my body is tired, but you are such a delight that I would sacrifice all the sleep I could just to keep you close a little while longer.”
And even then, she might not oblige, because inspiration often plays the trickster. She teases and unsettles us. She distracts us from things we “should be doing” and just when we say, “Alright, Love. I’m all yours. Let’s make magic together,” she loses interest and flutters away, to some other—more brilliant, desirable, talented—writer, of that much you are sure.
I had even hoped—an impossible, naive, desperate hope of all hopes—that if I sat down this morning and wrote of her, she’d indulge her vanity and come visit once more.
So much for that.