An Open Letter to My Muse
There’s no way I can write this and not sound unbalanced or at the very least desperate. Every attempt I’ve made to begin stops short before any real progress is made. Even now, I am choosing my words carefully, desiring to sound eloquent but not fake, straight forward but not indecorous…so on and so on. Perhaps my best course of action is just to speak plainly and allow you to make up your own mind.
It’s five in the morning, and I am unable to sleep. The older I get, the more sleep eludes me. Insomnia became a semi-regular companion when I turned thirty, and I’m sure it has plenty to do with the fact that by thirty, one should have their life figured out. By now, the things we wished to do should have been accomplished. This guilt, this despair, this ambition is enough to drive anyone awake, but, in my case, there’s more to it. My guilt, despair, and ambition is compounded by the fact that I can’t stop thinking about you.
Make no mistake: I have done this song and dance before…several times. I pine for people (always people I cannot actually have a future with). I’m a professional piner. List it on my resume along with “able to ride a horse”, “intermediate crocheter”, and “good with children”. I look off into the distance, see someone beautiful, and before you can say “hyper-fixation”, I answer the call of a siren who never sang a word to me. And each time I answer, I declare wholeheartedly that this one (this one!) is different.
I need you to understand, however, that my life isn’t miserable or even remotely sad. It’s easy to pick up this letter and assume that it comes from someone delusional, grief-stricken, and on the brink of despair who only has you to cling to. I have many wonderful things happening and I’d be remiss to deny any of them; furthermore, I know that meeting you or working with you is not a “make-or-break” factor in my life. However, my determination to find success has a way of minimizing good things and good thoughts. Not only am I a good piner, but apparently I like it as I’m always doing it. I love love. I love being in love.
You are my latest muse, and while my track record leaves a lot to be desired, this time around does feel different. The usual song and dance includes me devouring any piece of media that my afflatus has worked on. It only takes a few movies, a few albums, or the like for the illusion to break. As Orsino says in Twelfth Night “If music be the food of love, play on; Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, The appetite may sicken, and so die.” And die it usually does. Sometimes I even put off watching the films in order to keep the dream alive a little longer.
Your films, however, have had the opposite effect on me. I’ve been waiting patiently for the appetite to sicken and die, but this damn thing refuses to let go of me. I’ve decided to back off on watching your films for even the less-than-perfect ones seem to pull me under your spell (I’m looking at you, “Da Vinci Code”).
The obvious response to all of this is that I am not in love with you but, rather, the idea of you or, more accurately, my idea of who you are. Believe me, I have tried to be logical about this whole thing. You are a married man with children who is nearly two decades older than me and has no idea that I fucking exist. I have done my best to be hard and practical about all of this, but to throw another Shakespeare quote into the mix: the course of true love never did run smooth. (“Really, Deanna? We’re going to call this true love.” “I’m just using the quote to make a point. Move along.”)
I referred to you as a “muse”, and I stand by that statement. You make me want to create, which is the greatest gift someone can give an artist. I’m a playwright, and my mind has been buzzing more than usual with ideas and possibilities because nothing inspires the mind like a love that can never be. (W.B. Yeats’ muse was an actress named Maud Gonne. When he expressed sadness at her rejection of him, she is said to have replied, “You are making beautiful poetry out of your unhappiness and you are happy in that.” That’s a woman who knows how to inspire.) I know full well that you will probably never appear in any of these roles, but that doesn’t stop me from writing them for you.
This is the part of the letter where I talk about how wonderful you are, and this is also the part where I become exceedingly embarrassed…mainly because I am sure that no compliment I have to offer is anything new. Everything I have to say is old hat to you and probably feels stale; there’s nothing I can offer that will help you see yourself through my eyes.
My mind often wanders to the worst case scenario; I’m a very anxious person in case you hadn’t picked up on that, and worst case scenario for me involves despair and suicide. There’s a chance that you are sitting alone somewhere, unaware of the good you have done and feeling lost in a world of noise and disingenuous words, and then the pain becomes too much to bear. More likely, you are sitting in the lap of luxury right now, showered with praise, and completely up-to-date on your talents and brilliance; you don’t need me or my words, but I know this dance of sadness and self-deprecation. I can’t bear to think that others know the steps as well as I do. I can put my embarrassment aside if it means helping you. Words can’t fix everything, but there is power in them so please have my words.
Your work is truly outstanding, nuanced, and inspired. You are rare in that you are not afraid to look ugly, to play ugly characters. You are an attractive and talented man who could have easily gotten away with playing a plethora of empty-headed, macho pretty-boy heroes. But you didn’t. I don’t know the political side of your story (there’s always politics in networking), but from my perspective, you have spent a career pushing yourself and pushing every character to the edge. You seem to give everything, and that’s such a cliche phrase to throw around when talking with actors, but I’m not sure how else to describe it. Your tactile approach to scenery and props pulls the audience in. God, the graveyard scene in “Uncle Frank” was glorious. You ripped our hearts out; I openly wept as I watched this man stroke the headstone of his first love and finally gave in to the vulnerability despondency he’d been carrying for so long.
Oh, you want me to talk about comedy. Look no farther than the second episode of “WandaVision”. That whole show is a daunting task for any actor, having to run the gauntlet of sitcom humor across the ages and then tap into gripping drama and superhero action. (The second episode was probably my favorite, however, in terms of comedy; not everyone can do that kind of over-the-top farcical humor and still remain human, let alone likable.)
Shall I go on? “A Knight’s Tale”, “Manhunt: Unabomber”, “Master and Commander”, “A Beautiful Mind”, “Gangster №1”, and so many others. And that’s to say nothing of your delightful chaotic energy that you exude in interviews and run-of-the-mill conversations.
I am obsessed.
And I don’t say this with the hopes of winning favor or whatnot; I certainly wouldn’t turn it down, but I know full well that my attachment is one that write poetry, not one that lives happily ever after, watching sunsets and holding hands. Furthermore, I’m sure if anyone declared their obsession for me in a similar manner, I’d run for the hills. I speak these words because one should always know and know full well the extent of the magic that they leave in their wake. Life is so full of hate and anger that we mustn’t waste any time in sharing our genuine feelings and desires. My desire is that you are happy and can continue to rouse beautiful things from within me. As I said before, you have given me the greatest gift one can offer an artist: inspiration.
If I am merely daft, unbalanced, neurotic, or desperate, then so be it. If I die with love as my fatal flaw, then it shall be a life well lived. Do whatever you must do to live a life well lived.
Take care of yourself.