There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say ‘It is yet more difficult than you thought.’ This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.
Standing by Words
His voice was as mellifluous, humble, considered and considerate as my ‘mind’s ear’ had heard him by way of his writing. Wendell Berry’s appearance on Radio 4’s Start the Week with Andrew Marr was a treat.
Where or to whom might a person turn for solace or counsel at the point of not knowing what to do? When we no longer know which way to go?
Well, when my agitation has to do with the existence of bafflement itself, and my problem with that, then Wendell Berry’s often my man. Bafflement, deflection and obstruction, he reminds us, are gifts – Muses. Many the intended courses, thwarted in life, we’re glad not to have taken.
We’re happy to know that our lives are inspirited, of course; much less to be told ‘it is yet more difficult than you thought.’
Contemplative mind will keep us from destructive futility and the cycles of anger. Intended courses halted, we may come to discern impeded streams singing and the call of new directions, grateful that Wendell Berry introduced us to the two muses and the ultimate wholeness of the process. Good ecology in the gardens of our hearts, souls, minds and strength.
Stop. Give way. Take stock. Go on your way, a little way. Every day.