I can still quote every line from Almost Famous.
In addition to watching it over and over as soon as it was released in the States (2000), I then stole the DVD from a friend while living in Luxembourg sophomore year of college and watched it every single night for the better part of six months.
If you’ve never seen this movie, please stop reading this and fix that. (I mean, it’s on Netflix.)
The story is loosely (and not so loosely) based on the screenwriter, Cameron Crowe’s actual experience touring with artists like The Allman Brothers Band when he was a 16 year-old high school senior.
My favorite character (by far) is the Band-Aid, Penny Lane (played by Kate Hudson). In a much looser, cheaper term Penny is a groupie, though as is explained (and pondered) by herself, her faithful followers and the story’s protagonist, William, Penny is so much more powerful than that.
She’s a muse. In this case mostly for the band’s lead singer, Russell, who also happens to be married – but for whatever reason his wife doesn’t tour.
William may be the story’s central character – Russell may be the lead singer – but neither are the main draw. The band, the music, the writing, the energy – clearly – that’s all Penny.
She’s magnetic. I mean, in the movie, nearly everyone of substance falls for her. Hell, every time I watch it, I still fall for her.
There’s something irresistible about inspiring greatness. About being seen or known as the one that helps others connect to their best selves, or at the very least with their best ideas.
She’s magic that Penny Lane. She can see you…even (and especially) when you can’t seem to focus on yourself.
Sadly though, that doesn’t make her (or the objects of her inspiration) impervious to heartache.
For a very long time, I romanticized Penny and muses. Wanting to find one. Wanting (perhaps even more so) to be one.
But as that iconic Tiny Dancer scene has continued (for almost two decades now – yikes) to play on repeat in my mind, I’ve started to feel that big, brave truth more and more:
Penny is You.
Your Muse is You.
Like, my second favorite character, William’s Mom (played by the remarkable Frances McDormand) reminds us: Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.
Your Muse already believes that, it’s all happening. Maybe we should, too.