Episode 037 – The Muse In the Mustard

“For too many centuries women have been being muses to artists. I wanted to be the muse, I wanted to be the wife of the artist, but I was really trying to avoid the final issue — that I had to do the job myself.” Anaïs Nin

She is the Muse.

Of course, we coddle her. Love her. And implore her not to abandon us.

But sometimes, it takes running out of mustard to find her.

Yes, I said it takes running out of mustard to connect with the muse.

I know that sounds kooky but it’s true. You see, here’s the scenario. You’re about to begin a project. The resistance shows up right on cue and you handle it by telling yourself you need to eat first. 

When you go to make the sandwich, you find that you’re out of mustard. Perfect! An excuse. I’ll walk to the store and get some mustard. 

And what happens on the way to the store? Life… that’s what happens. 

This episode has a little bit of everything, Shakespeare, Vonnegut, and a legendary Spanish priest tossing mustard seed around like it’s… well, seed. 

Listen in as I try to talk my way through this one. 

Subscribe and Share

If you like what you’re hearing, subscribe, follow, and share this show with your friends because it doesn’t go anywhere without you.

Until next time, be nice and do good stuff.

Hey everyone, it’s episode 037, welcome to the show. Only two more left in season 3 and while I’m not certain of anything at this point, there will be some changes coming for season 4.

I’ll try to give some details in the closing episode.

For right now, I have to say, right off the bat, this episode right here is coming to you, courtesy of the resistance. As I sit here in front of my microphone, it is the Monday before this episode supposed to go live and I say that knowing that none of you need to know this information.

How would you know if I just posted the episode? You wouldn’t.

But, from the beginning, I’ve tried to give you a realistic portrayal of my process, warts and all. And for the last month or so, the inmates have been running the asylum but that all changes today.

And what is reason for this change, pray tell?

Mustard. I said, mustard


Shakespeare: Henry V – “Oh for a muse of fire that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention.”

Yeah, yeah… I’m not a Billy Shakespeare kinda guy but to have a muse like that on my side would be lovely! Ascend the brightest heaven? I don’t even need that… I just need a little nudge through the resistance.

If you’ve listened to previous episodes, you know I don’t put too much stock in the whole work when you get inspired thing… I believe you gotta first put your ass in the chair and begin the task… then… if you’re open to receive it, the inspiration and the motivation to continue show up… not before.

You know who else doesn’t show up until the work begins? The Muse.

I’m not sure how many creators or writers are still supersticious these days… Let’s be honest, the computer has really dumbed down our connection to the “higher powers.”

While I’m not supersticious by nature and reluctant to use the word inspiration when it comes to beginning anything, I do have a certain awareness and a healthy respect for both.

I mean whether we’re seeking to being a workout regimen or we’re trying to gear up for a big project at work or we’re simply trying to paint or write for our own enjoyment, we all tend to lean on inspiration to get started.

And sure, some believe in the Muse as she’s always been presented in her mystical goddess form.

Personally, I believe the modern-day muse is a shapeshifter. She comes in many forms. Yes, she still fills the well that we perpetually fear will dry up.

Yes, we coddle her. Love her. And implore her not to abandon us. But sometimes, it takes running out of mustard to find her.

[record skipping sound effect]

Yes, I said it takes running out of mustard to connect with the muse. Sometimes… it does.

Kurt Vonnegut understood this… Wait. Mustard… Shakespeare… the Muse and now Vonnegut?

Shit… the inmates may still be in charge.

It will all make sense. At some point.

Back in 2005 David Brancaccio did an interview with Kurt Vonnegut. I don’t need to tell you who Vonnegut was do I? Slaughterhouse Five, Cats Cradle? Okay…

Anyway, Vonnegut recalled a story about the time he told his wife he was going out to buy an envelope.

“Oh,’ she says, ‘well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet?

And so I pretend not to hear her, Vonnegut says. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope.

I meet a lot of people.
And, see some great looking babies. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And, and ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know.
The moral of the story is, we’re here on Earth to fart around.”
And I have always remembered this story because I fully ascribe to his philosophy.
You see, I go to the market every day to buy the ingredients I need to prepare that evenings meal. My friends always ask, “why don’t you just shop for for the entire week? It saves time.”
Yes, of course it would absolutely save time. But I don’t go to the market for groceries. Just like Vonnegut, I go for the conversations. I go to experience the events that happen in the time between leaving the house, getting to the market, and returning.

I get to practice my Spanish. I pet the street dogs. I chat with the inebriated man dancing with a broom. My head swirls and forgets for a scant few moments the amount of pressure and bullshit I’ve heaped upon the process of creating my silly episode.
The weight of Atlas diminishes as the pesos rattle in my pocket and I contemplate what it means that I actually spent a considerable amount of time going down the rabbit hole to find intersting facts about mustard in an attempt to connect it to this piece.

And whats even more astounding to me is that I actually have.
Did you know there were 40 different varieties of mustard plants and over 16 different types of mustard? You got your Dusseldorf, Whole Grain, Honey Mustard, Fruit Mustard, Beer Mustard… well, you get the point…

Did you also know that there is a connection between mustard and Baja Mexico, the very place I’m living and writing this piece about the Muse? I bet you didn’t… but the muse did because she’s here now, whispering in my ear, “Tell them, asshole”

Legend has it, Father Junipero Serra brought with him from Spain, wild mustard seed. Father Serra and his party traveled by foot from Mexico City to lower Baja and then up to California.

He is credited with establishing 15 of the famous missions of Baja on his way along the El Camino Real

As they travelled from mission to mission, the padres scattered the mustard seeds along the way. When explorers returned in the spring, they did so to a blossoming yellow pathway of mustard flowers…

Now, I didn’t follow any golden pathway to the market. But, did pass one of those famous missions. I don’t recall many good looking babies… or fire engines but that’s not the point.

The point… finally, (this ones gonna leave a mark) is that sometimes it’s not about the envelope, the mustard. It’s about all of the living we do in the space between our keyboard and the check out line.

Out of our head space. Out into the world where the stories are happneing. In the company of sound and light. The smells of the city. I listened to conversations that people were having… and swirled it all around in my mind like marbles in a fish bowl.

Oh, and yeah… I got the mustard.


Xero Shoes

Xero shoes

My Books

The Quiet Goings On

Burning Man

Get on the email list →

Be the first to know when new episodes drop, new merch added, and other cool happenings.