April is National Poetry Month in the US, and while I usually celebrate by reading more poetry, spreading the word about poetry, and getting nostalgic about the first writing class I taught (Poetry Unbound in 1996), this year I’ve been a little distracted.
Between the Creativity Conference in Italy and the return to the US after a year in Europe, April has given me scant time to pay attention to the subtle and delightful world of poetry.
But I had (what I consider) a great idea while waiting for my flight to Denver in Heathrow Airport. My most creative times are often in airports. One of my clients gets most of his writing done while traveling. There’s something about movement and flight that invites the Muse to drop ideas.
So here’s the wacky mission that my Muse bestowed upon me in the airport. I was to get the attention of my fellow airplane travelers. As a fan of the TV show LOST, I now look at the others on my flights in a whole new way. In one sweeping glance, I see us banding together in a crisis. I assess who will freak and who will thrive on the challenge. I like how this gives me a sense that we’re all in this together. It beats the urge to join others in nudging my way to the front of the line to board first. (I mean, aren’t we all going to the same place? Why rush to get on board?) But I digress.
My Muse told me to get everyone’s attention and remind the crowd that April is National Poetry Month. I was to offer to write poems for anyone who brought a subject to me in seat 23F. I have done this before, spontaneous poetry writing, on the streets of Denver. I even wrote an essay about it and won a contest. So the idea of penning poetry on the spot was nothing new. Speaking to crowds of people is one of my greatest thrills.
But we boarded the plane without my announcement. Don’t worry, I consoled my Muse. I’ll enroll that friendly BA flight attendant to make the announcement. But as we settled in for the nine-hour flight, my conviction that this was the best idea to land on an airplane waned. I resigned myself to serial movie watching and hyper-carbohydrate airline food.
The spark of creative wackiness that my Muse had given me faded and my disappointment in myself increased. I mean, how fun would that have been to practice my poetry writing, meet a bunch of new people, and possibly transform the trans-Atlantic experience for everyone?
Sigh. After a year of accepting creative challenges from my Muse with gusto, this is the one I did not accept and one that I regret.
I’ll go easy on myself about this. No point in beating myself up. But I do wonder what had me conform. What had me stay in my seat quietly and avoid stirring things up?
This experience in creative stifling gave me empathy for those who live in a more conformist environment (read: cubicle land). I recognize that we need an extra surge of courage from the Muse when she bestows a wacky idea like this upon us.
What has you stifle the creative missions that your Muse bestows upon you?
As a reminder that creative wackiness does exist on airplanes, enjoy this video of a Southwest Flight Attendant rapping the airplane welcome. Creative travels to you all!