Personal Writing

What’s your role in the fire?

The last thing I do before I sit down to work is say my prayer to the Muse. I say it out loud, in absolute earnest. Only then do I get down to business.

Steven Pressfield The War of Art

I’ve written about this book before because it’s one I return to often. There’s much to admire, but I’m particularly attracted to the way Mr Pressfield talks about his use of the sacred opening lines of T.E. Lawrence’s translation of Homer’s Odyssey.

The third section of The War of Art, titled “Beyond Resistance The Higher Realm,” is all about this mysterious, divine, ancient relationship humans have, conscious or not, with another plane, with beings, Angels, the Universe, God, Muses, the divine, energy…call it what you will.

He notes, “Artists have invoked the Muse since time immemorial. There is great wisdom to this. There is magic to effacing our human arrogance and humbly entreating help from a source we cannot see, hear, touch, or smell” (119).

If you read my work, you know I’ve been gifted, more than once, with direct communication from the Universe. I believe my Angels, my Muses, my Spark are communicating and collaborating with me all the time. And sometimes I am still enough to bear witness.

Earlier this year, I was kicking around the idea of writing an invocation of my own. For a bit, I thought of also using the translated opening from the Odyssey, but that didn’t inspire me. It’s beautiful, but it’s one white man’s interpretation of another white man’s writing of a white man’s journey…

I wanted something that spoke to me, spoke of me, spoke through me.

On February 5, I sat down, invited my Muse to join me and wrote my own invocation.

I’m not sharing it because it’s deeply personal, but I will note that it begins with another white man’s poetry:

O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention.

William Shakespeare Henry V (watch one of my favorite versions here)

I say my invocation every day. In fact, I had it printed on a canvas that sits on my desk so I see it while I’m working.

For four months, I’ve been formerly calling on my Muses, inviting my Spark to show up and work with me. While this has been a challenging time in many ways, it’s also been a time of personal calm and quiet. I’ve made space for my Muse to reveal itself, and I haven’t been disappointed.

I’m attempting to do daily meditations and recently came across one on Aura simply titled “O For a Muse of Fire.” You can imagine I was intrigued.

The guide shared that this opening soliloquy invites the audience to use their imagination to fill in the gaps between history and the reality of a limited, live theatrical stage. Effectively making their imagination an active character in the play, the audience is encouraged to create in their mind’s eye hundreds of men when there are but a few on stage, see real horses and vast kingdoms and fields rather than the small, bare stage.

I’ve known these lines for decades, but I’ve never thought about how directly Chorus is calling on the audience to participate in the production before.

I’ve been engaging my Muses to help me accomplish a number of tasks: principally, to grow my audience. But, according to Mr Pressfield, Angels are on the other side of a pane of glass. That’s why it’s so hard to “catch” them in the act of working for and with us. They may be present but not available, watching but not overtly laboring, commenting but not heard.

As I listened to these famous lines, setting the literal and figurative stage, I realized I’ve overlooked an actual player who is available, can labor and be heard: YOU. I’ve not as fervently or clearly invited you to participate as an integral element of this production called Discover Your Spark as I have the Angels and Muses behind the glass.

*What I know from my years of being in front of houses filled with people is that the audience contribute breath, expectation, emotion, support and lived experience to the production. Your laughter, sniffles and tears, your breath, your willingness to suspend your disbelief and go along on the journey is more vital to the actors on stage, to me, than the props, the costumes and the technical elements. We need each other; theatre is so much better when we’re actively participating together.

Today, I invite you to join this production as an engaged audience member. Here are some easy steps you can take right now to actively participate with me and this production we’re creating:

  • Comment directly on this blog post
  • Share it with someone(s)
  • Subscribe to my YouTube channel, LinkedIn, Facebook and/or Instagram pages
  • Sign up for my weekly Sunday newsletter
  • Send me a note about what you’re thinking as it relates to your own Spark
  • Read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and write your own invocation (about anything you want to focus on, grow, change, tackle, pursue). Say it out loud consistently for 21 days. Then let me know if you notice anything different about your work or the journey to reaching your goals.

I can’t wait to see what Sparks we create together!

Photo caption: My great, great grandfather James Carss’ Shakespeare Historical anthology from 1870, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and my printed invocation.

*Not entirely sure what I’m talking about? Let me share this example: My first production in my first summer of professional theatre was the musical Carousel. It was a beast of a production to build, something all the actors actively participated in, and put together. By opening night, we were all exhausted.

I wasn’t feeling particularly excited when I stepped into my place as the music began and the curtain started to rise, but as soon as the audience glimpsed the extraordinary tableau we’d constructed, they burst into applause. I went from tired and apathetic to electrified in a way I’ve never experienced again. The audience’s response sent a jolt through me, through us all, that transformed that stage and us into the vast world of the musical. I’ll never forget that dynamic, immediate shared exchange we had with our audience that night.

Dayna Del Val is on a mission to help others (re)discover the spark they were born with through her blog and newsletter, her professional talks and the (re)Discover Your Spark retreats she leads. Dayna works with people to help them not just identify and articulate their dreams but to develop a framework to get going on the pursuit of those dreams—today, in the next few months and for the years ahead. She's at the intersection of remarkable and so, so ordinary, but she knows that pretty much everyone else is, too. She's excited to be sharing this extraordinary journey with you.

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