We’ve been there.
We are writers. We were working for newspapers and magazines in New York City, good jobs but not that closely resembling the poetry or fiction we’d thought we’d write. Space-time? There was no space to retreat to, no time to write our own stuff or let alone to just breathe on a regular basis. Our jobs were everything.
We were talking, as newlyweds, about our dream version of our life, where we would have time to write and spend time together and raise a family. In our dreaming, we went online to look at real-estate in southern France, which we’d heard was cheap in certain parts. We thought we could buy a small house in the country and go there every year to write and sample a simpler way of living. Hell, it’s not as if we would ever be able to buy a brownstone in Brooklyn.
What we found was a dilapidated manor house in what we call the Cinderella of France, the Languedoc, with its Cathars and Troubadors, a house with 15 rooms at the cost of a storage locker in NYC. We saw this thing online and were filled with the enthusiasm (remember that word from earlier?) of a great find and an inspired idea. What if we bought that house and rented all those rooms out at affordable rates to other creative people like us? What if we created a writers’ and artists’ retreat?!? What if we could run a retreat and write for ourselves, raising a family and having time together?
As is the way when one follows an inspiration, through nearly impossible challenges including lack of money and complicated international paperwork, lack of life-experience and previous home-ownerships, we have managed to follow through on that little seed of inspiration, and watch it become what is now La Muse, a truly fulfilling creative project in and of itself. We let IT carry US.
We had to think out-of-the-box, we had to be flexible and open, and although we had to hunker down and sweat the details, we also had to let go.
It wasn’t easy. This process was filled with a jumble of nuts and bolts, and sometimes disbelief on behalf of other people (thankfully, not our families): “What?!? You can just up and leave and start a what… a writers’ and artists’ retreat? You have to be someone, you have to have backing, you have to have money or status or something behind you…” etc.
In society the idea of being creative and getting inspired is frowned upon, so running a “business” that focuses on exactly that can’t be lucrative. Right? “You’ll never make enough money to support your family with that.” We didn’t blame people for their skepticism. They just didn’t understand. Fortunately these potentially discouraging comments came to us when it was too late for us to be discouraged. We were already locked in. And so, we just had to do it. You see, we weren’t doing it to support a family. We were doing it because we believed in it.
As to the way things are seen and done today: we believe people are educated to stay in the box. Society’s educational system is based on this broken model, that of the mathematical mind created during the utilitarian Industrial Revolution.
Sir Ken Robinson, a world renowned education expert talks wonderfully about this broken model here:
We love this quote in his talk:
life is not linear; it’s organic. We create our lives symbiotically as we explore our talents in relation to the circumstances they help to create for us. But, you know, we have become obsessed with this linear narrative. And probably the pinnacle for education is getting you to college.
We’ve been inspired by so many of the people who’ve been here.
One former Muser, a landscape architect and photographer from the United States, approaches his life like any of the large gardens he creates: He talks about how he turns the dirt over here and spreads compost over there. He trims the hedges on this project and spreads some seeds on that one. He does a little watering over here and weeds a bit over there. Over a period of time, he enjoys watching his projects grow. In this way, different facets of his life are consistently tended to and allowed to take their own shape.
This type of creation is not linear or square. It is inspired. It is out of the box. This is inspiration and creativity. This is La Muse and this can be your life too. Every day is an opportunity to create something. You have more options than you know. You only need to get your head out of the box to see how far you can go and then do it!