I am sleeping soundly and then I hear a sound, or I have a weird dream or the cat walks across my face, and I am jolted from sleep. Most of the time, I wake up for a second and then return to dreaming.
Sometimes there are those nights where the sound/dream/cat is just a catalyst for something much greater. Some nights, I wake up so clear, and I lie there thinking I could if I really try- go right back to sleep, but I could get up and go paint even though it is one or two in the morning. My inner voice chimes in "normal people don't get up now- it would be so much easier just to lie here until I fall asleep again- right?" Then I get thinking even more, what if I really moved, and my feet found the floor, and my hands found my painting clothes, and I put it all together and started up to the studio. What paintings might be born in the middle of the night if I took a chance...oh yeah... that is the voice of the muse and I better listen...
When I find myself walking up the steps to my studio, then it starts to get fun. I made it! I broke free from normal habit and inertia, tonight is going to be special and out of the ordinary. Whatever happens is going to be good now- I feel like a kid prowling around the house when everyone is sleeping. The whole town is sleeping, and I am up. It feels rebellious and magical all at once. I heard the call and I answered...Victory!
I turn on the lights to my studio and the even the light seems better when it is dark outside my windows. I think "why don't I paint at 2 in the morning all the time" - I then realize this time wouldn't feel half as special if I did. I put my headphones on and disappear into the music. It is so refreshing being awake in the middle of the night, thoughts swirl around my head while I dive head first into choosing the right blue, the perfect burnt orange, finding the pencil, and then the sharpener. I jump into the colors, textures, and shapes. I think about friend's birthdays, new babies, and my husband's upcoming trip away, the sounds outside, the way the street light makes the treetops glow. I think about the sweet music in my ears, the perfect lyric, all of these thoughts and sensations guide me forward as I work, and maneuver through the painting, solving the little problems that come up as I go.
Time moves by quickly, and I am not tired. I feel such a sense of accomplishment, I am fueling my own fire, and paintings are emerging with ease. When I realize that I am feeling satisfied with my progress for this session, and the 29 songs that I wanted to listen to are over, I play a few extras just finish things up. I prop up my new works, some having been finished in this time, some are just emerging, but they are all here, the way they are in this moment because I answered the call.
The idea that a different decision could have altered their existence completely rolls around in my head, if I had rolled over and slept- these paintings before me would not exist. How many of my paintings don't exist because in the past I did choose sleep. Or, do they stay somewhere, hidden until the Muse is strong enough and I am clear enough to hear the call. Then are the paintings actualized?
So, the next time you are awake in the dark, is it a bump in the night or is it the Muse calling?
And will you answer?