The molasses-like slip into winter has had me scraping my nails over the chilled surface of inspiration. The spur to write isn’t just happening to me; I have to dig for it.
My loved ones feel similarly, all struggling in individual ways to keep the blood moving through a freezing vein. They bake bread, read near candlelight, spin pottery cups, play guitar, amongst other domestic putterings like dishes and laundry and commuting to day jobs.
When I first sat down to collect my thoughts for this musing, I drew a blank. A familiar feeling! Like I often do when I’m stuck, I shuffled my deck and drew a card. The Knight of Pentacles peered back at me: the grounded guide of vigilance, diligence, and work ethic.
This Knight is persistent in gliding toward potentiality. Following the dreamy ideals of the Page, they know that any aspect of success is spun from doing the work, which often requires engaging with routine—the underbelly of ecstatic excitement or explosive creating. They know discipline like no other.
Okay, I thought, this is what we’re going through. This is the actual work we’re doing to achieve whatever we’re aiming for, even when said work is pretty grueling and motivation is near nil. Um, fun? All right, Knight of Pentacles, you are one methodical creature.
Here’s where I got stuck again: on the word methodical. Please allow me to abruptly switch narrative styles. This is a musing, after all.
I am personally eyes bulgingly crooked with stress and half insane with—is this laughter?—trying to find my muse these days. I metaphorically handcuff myself to my desk, shove pens into my palm, stare simultaneously crazed and vacantly at old poems for hours and hours and sometimes—NOTHING! Not. A. Spark.
But I’ve been through this rigmarole too many times to mistake it for anything other than what it blaringly is. Just a need to do the work. Just a part of what it means to be alive, to create something, to move toward manifesting a goal. Methooooodicaaaally.
I love that word, methodical. A huge part of my process as a writer (especially when I’m lacking electric inspiration) is ripping apart the dictionary—definitions, derivatives, etymologies, etc.
Being methodical, like our Knight of Pentacles, literally implies method, which is defined as: “a systematic procedure, technique, or mode of inquiry employed by or proper to a particular discipline or art; a way, technique, or process of or for doing something; a body of skills or techniques.”
Procedure?! How medical. Disciple OR Art?! Can’t they one in the same? And, BODY of skills?!! Absolutely. A way. A mode. Strange, specific-to-us methods—we all have them.
It wasn’t obvious to me right away, but the muse is in the method. The muse is even in the mundane. We just have to pay attention—to the tiniest disruptions and what they mean, to the little beauties of routine, to the significance of simple tasks and how they build into something bigger.
Like the stag’s antlers extend beyond itself, a crown of larger awareness, our idiosyncratic methods also extend beyond the seemingly commonplace.
Yeah. The dull is still divine.
We’ve got to do the work, whatever it looks like.
We’re called to keep asking ourselves:
what’s my grind? my ritualistic routine?
am I following my fear through its dark doors?
am I feeding my weird obsessions?
conducting increasingly odd and personal experiments?
indulging my strange research?
how am I engaging with the same song/poem/recipe/proposal/idea/question/piece of art/relationship, over and over again? each time with a new pair of eyes?
how am I madly, unrelentingly, feverishly engaging with my method, my precise process, my quirky art of living?
Even sliding into the cold, syrupy days of winter, I hope that we all keep doing the work, that we all keep revering our routines, that we all keep digging, in search of whatever we need.