"To express yourself needs a reason, but expressing yourself is the reason."
"Why would anyone be interested in reading about your life, Cherise? Don't you think you're being a tad narcissistic? Go and write about something useful to people."
This is usually the point where Ms Soul interjects. She's a big mama with curious totemic images all over her body, laying like tattoos just beneath the skin. I asked her once what they meant; she told me that each and every marking was a gift from an ancestor. Ms Soul flattens Mrs Mind with her eyes, and with a great deal of sass remarks, "Frida Kahlo did virtually nothing but paint pictures of herself! You don't go around saying no one cares about her life! And I tell you why- because we are all unique and luminous fragments cut from the same diamond. When one person reveals their jagged bits, then other people gather round and whisper, 'hey, my edges look a bit like that too! I thought I was the only one... hallelujah!'"
Mrs Mind raises her neatly pencilled-in eyebrows. "Oh, so you think you can compare yourself to Frida Kahlo now?! Ha! Who do you think you are?!"
To which Ms Soul rolls her eyes while swatting away Mrs Mind's words like a bad smell and replies, "Pfft! I'm getting tired of listening to your bullshit, woman!"
She takes in the two women with a deep breath and says- "I can see where you're both coming from. Mrs Mind, life has been a rough ride and I know it's hard for you to keep believing in yourself. I understand that you're just trying to protect yourself from people like Mr Cameron in primary school, whose bellowing attack scared the bejesus out of you when you spoke up about his inappropriately aggressive ways. And Ms Soul, as much as I love the poetry in what you articulated and am deeply moved when that connection happens, I don't need a larger-than-life reason to express myself. I'm just going to write what I feel because I want to, because it's as natural as the movement of the tides... plain and simple."
That usually shuts the other women up, at least for a few hours. I'll admit it can get a little bit boring listening to the various versions of their conversation on repeat. I'm not sure they'll ever change or disappear, though maybe they don't need to. Perhaps their conflicting ways of looking at the world is the very thing that calls in a visit from Ms Muse...
When I met my Muse by William Stafford.
I glanced at her and took my glasses
off--they were still singing. They buzzed
like a locust on the coffee table and then
ceased. Her voice belled forth, and the
sunlight bent. I felt the ceiling arch, and
knew that nails up there took a new grip
on whatever they touched. "I am your own
way of looking at things," she said. "When
you allow me to live with you, every
glance at the world around you will be
a sort of salvation." And I took her hand.