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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

The Muse

Occasionally, folks ask me where I come up with the ideas for this blog. I have been writing it for over a year now and I hope I haven’t repeated myself too often. The truth is I almost never set out to write a post, but when I need to or when it is on my mind, a topic suggests itself in unexpected ways. Call this divine providence, call it my Muse or call it the result of a youth spent putting off the inevitable. I hate to say it but I was once a serial procrastinator and unfortunately, I got away with it all too often. I would put off what I knew I had to do until the very last moment and then scrape by—sometimes just by the proverbial skin of my teeth.

Often, I pulled all-nighters to get the work done and then sank into oblivion for a few days to recuperate. The toll on my health and sanity was steep. Finally, the day of reckoning came and I made a vow I have since kept, never to put off what needed to be dealt with in the here and now. I am happy to report that I have stuck to this vow through some fairly trying moments rather than concede, even in the slightest, a return to my old ways of doing things.

But I will let you in on a secret. I went from being a procrastinator to something worse. I was so fixed on never putting things off that I had to finish everything on my to-do list no matter what, and I had to do it all at once. I could not master the fine art of letting things find their own time to ripen, and in my haste I sometimes did less than I was able or drove myself into the ground doing it.

It has only been in my later years that I learned the truth of a season for everything. When things don’t go the right way, obstacles appear or even when I finish something early and am tempted to march on—I wait. I heed the signals the universe sends, and I wait till the thing I must do is ripe. Sometimes it is writing and if I just push on the work isn’t my best. But when I just let it flow naturally—the words are there and the ideas too.

It is the same way with the garden—sometimes you just have to let the leaves blow or the weeds grow and save dealing with it for another time. Now you might say that what I have learned is patience but you would not be correct. I am just as stubbornly impatient as I always was—the only difference today is that I know that my impatience is at odds with the universe. So I abide.

Isn’t that a lovely word, abide? If you look up its meaning you will see that it means to heed, accept, obey, observe, and respect, among other meanings. It denotes a reverent attention to another, something which I took from its scriptural use. When we read that some figure abided with God, we understand that they did more than keep him company—they heeded and respected him—obeyed him in everything. But it isn’t a slavish word—it does not suggest compulsion. Rather it conveys a conscious decision to stay by his side and observe quietly.

I use the word to say that I want to spend some quality time with someone, a friend, mentor, someone I deeply respect. Whether you are someone who has a relationship with God or not we can agree that abiding with someone can be a transforming experience. Abiding makes no demands, it is unselfish and yielding to another’s direction. It is more than keeping company, but not so deeply personal that it suggests physical intimacy. Make no mistake though, it is intimate—one to one, but more as a father or mother with their child or two childhood friends.

While I wait for the time to ripen on something I must do, I abide. I wait on the universe, on God, to signal that now is the moment when my efforts will prosper. And eventually, in good time that sign will come. I am not impatient for it to come—despite my general feeling of hastening—one that we all sense as we age. My impatience is wanting to unwrap the present—to get to the good stuff. But I know better, and I know that the waiting is sometimes the best part.

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