When I Met My Muse: William Stafford and looking at the world with your strengths

When I Met My Muse

I glanced at her and took my glasses

off–they were still singing. They buzzed

like a locust on the coffee table and then

ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the

sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and

knew that nails up there took a new grip

on whatever they touched. “I am your own

way of looking at things,” she said. “When

you allow me to live with you, every

glance at the world around you will be

a sort of salvation.” And I took her hand.

–       William Stafford

Your muse, your strength, your salvation. Note the phrase, “I am your own way of looking at things.” The things he speaks of are the same things that surround us every day. The difference is that we look at them our way, not someone else’s way. That’s looking at the same old challenges through the lenses of your strengths, your talents, your passion.

When we do this, “every glance at the world around you will be a sort of salvation.” The salvation is here, right now, in what Yeats called the foul rag and bone shop of the heart. It’s what we live in every day, today. But when your muse, your talents are allowed to look at your problems for you, often a path opens up where none seemed to exist – a path to a sort of salvation, which paradoxically is deeper into what we often try to avoid.

And what a last line! “And I took her hand.” So simple, but it’s as if Queen is playing “We Are the Champions” in that moment. It’s a moment of happiness – a classic positive psychology moment – of looking at and remembering what’s right. There are thousands of moments that go wrong, and few that go right. But to remember when they go right is to amplify those moments’ power and to lay the ground for more right moments.

Let’s look at the same old things our own way today. Let that be a sort of salvation. And let’s take our muse’s hand, again and again.

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