“There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair. He may not be much to look at, that muse-guy, and he may not be much of a conversationalist, but he’s got inspiration. It’s right that you should do all the work and burn all the mid-night oil, because the guy with the cigar and the little wings has got a bag of magic. There’s stuff in there that can change your life. Believe me, I know.”
I can’t tell you where to find your muse-guy. It might be a corner-booth in a crowded bar. It might be in your own house, in your own bed, as you struggle to fall asleep.
You might even find your muse in the subway, as you ride home after work.
Stranger things have happened.
I can tell you only that when you find this muse, every civilized instinct in your soul will disappear. You’ll suddenly feel this itch, impulsive as hell, a complete disregard for rules or consequences.
Some two thousand years ago a guy by the name of Archimedes stepped into a bath and noticed that the water level rose, whereupon he understood that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged in the bath.
It was then that he shouted, “Eureka!” which means, “I have found it.”
We must think that “Eureka” moments are just like that. The ideas that hit you when you’re taking a shower. Or the ones you have just before falling asleep.
“If anyone can refute me — show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective — I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.”
How often do you change your mind? How often do you change your beliefs? What about your principles? Or your self-image?
How often do you admit that you were wrong?
How often do you force yourself to see things from the opposite of your usual perspective?
It can often feel like a cardinal sin to change one’s mind, to admit being wrong, but the truth is that the inability to change one’s mind is the foundation of a fixed mindset.