Meet the Muses

I first heard the word muse when I was completely enchanted by the movie Xanadu as a five-year-old. In the movie, Olivia Newton John portrays a muse who inspires a painter to complete a record album cover. Aside from the great music (i.e. Magic by Olivia Newton John and I’m Alive by Electric Light Orchestra) and roller skating, there was something more to the movie for me–I felt intrigued by the idea of a muse, or a source of inspiration.

In Greek mythology, there are nine muses–the daughters of Mnemosine and Zeus who are goddesses of the arts and science and often portrayed as voluptuous women with exposed breasts and alluring smiles. When I created this blog, it was not to suggest that I was a muse in this vein. Rather, I wanted to play with the idea that we can inspire each other, and also be inspired by the non-human world. The intent of this blog is to be a source of inspiration which sparks many more ideas from you.

And so I’ve given some thought to what inspires me, and it seems fitting that I should explain that to you in depth as the basis for further conversation at the Activist’s Muse. Over the next several weeks, I’ll be describing each of the eight muses that I have identified as an important source of inspiration to me.

  • October 4, 2021 – Optimism
  • October 18, 2021 – Joy
  • November 11, 2021 – Transformation
  • November 15, 2021 – Integrity
  • November 29, 2021 – Wisdom
  • December 13, 2021 – Community
  • December 27, 2021 – Creativity
  • January 10, 2022 – Meaning

These words are what some people might call values. They are that, but so much more to me. A value is something that is pre-defined that we feel obliged to follow because of our faith, the law, or our moral compass. A muse is, instead, an open-ended source of inspiration and enrichment. I’ll explain who each of the muses are, how they inspire me, and how I tune into them in the weeks that follow.

The Top 10 Things I Have Learned as a Ph.D. Student

1. Everything I have been taught is a lie, or at least an illusion.
2. Wisdom and understanding are more important than knowledge.
3. Truth is an elusive mystery.
4. I am not as smart as I thought I was.
5. I am smarter than I thought I was.
6. Lao Tzu and Socrates were right – the more I know, the less I understand and the only true wisdom is knowing that I know nothing.
7. My mind is but an ornery grain of sand on the splendid beach of scholarship.
8. I can’t imagine having enough time to thoroughly explore and learn everything that interests me.
9. Learning is a process of awakening.
10. Qualitative research is just as valuable — to me and to others — as quantitative research (yay!).

The Religiosity and Spirituality of Politics

Oh yes I did…bring up the two most controversial topics in one blog post.

The way we perform politics is much like the expression of religious dogma. We rigidly control and divide based on what we claim to be the ‘truth.’ Wouldn’t it be cool if we let go of our beliefs, all of us, and performed politics with a sense of awe, wonder, openness, and mystery in search of universal wisdom?