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Chasing the Muse -- Cherril Doty

“You can not step into the same river twice.”

-- Heraclitus

I feel my heart pounding. Searing pain burns my chest as I gasp for

more air. I lean forward, run harder. Still, the gap continues to widen


and the rear of the train recedes into the distance as I collapse to the

ground with a wrenching sob escaping my throat. Then, the cascading sound

of warbling birds on the cool wet morning air drifts into my

consciousness. Struggling upward, I open my eyes. Only a dream. I still


feel the pressure in my chest. Taking a deep breath, I feel it expand and

contract inside my body. I ponder the meaning of the sleep vision visited

upon me.

It’s life, Sidda. You don’t figure it out. You just climb up on the

beast and ride. These words from The Divine Secrets of the “Ya-Ya

Sisterhood” call me back to reason. I am home. No trains to catch, real

or imagined. Maybe a walk on the beach to start my day. There is much to

do. No time for pondering and wondering about dreams. Challenges and


obstacles await my attention. It is that time of year again - festivals,

full beaches, no place to park. The hum of activity has begun.

In the process of living, nothing stays the same for very long. Change

is good. And yet, I resist moving on. The path of least resistance lies

just beneath my feet. Lacing up my shoes and putting on my visor, I walk

out the door. Threads of the morning dream still linger muddled together

with visions of last night’s annular eclipse and display dimensions for

my festival booth. Since returning from the river I have been fighting


being here, seeking the clarity and the breathtaking intensity of that

time, wanting the solace of the Grand Canyon and its open spaces.

Life seemed so simple on the river. Sam, our trip leader, would ask

each evening, “Wanna know where we’re going tomorrow?” He would then go

on to say that we would paddle a little, stop for a while, eat some

lunch, maybe take a little hike if we felt like it. The ease of telling

it belied the miles of paddling, the heat, the perils of the rapids

encountered, the sheer cliffs that would be scaled, the packing and

unpacking of the boats. It wasn’t about figuring it out, but about the

“ride.” In reassessing this knowledge, I also know that I don’t need to

be somewhere else, that much of what I seek is right here, right beneath

my feet.

Right here in Laguna Beach I can walk out my door and be next to the

flow of ocean water in minutes. I can go the other direction and hike

into the wilderness of Wood or Aliso or Moro Canyons. We are fortunate to

have the solace of these spaces around us. It is the process of living a

life forward, moment to moment, knowing that whatever challenges and

obstacles arise will be met that matters.

If you sit beside the flowing water long enough - whether river or

ocean or creek - you will hear the soft, whispering voices. These voices

call to the restless parts in each of us. These voices call us to create

life, to wander, to ride, to go with the passions that have called many

before us and many who will follow. Maybe I missed that train in my

dreams, but there are so many more. Life is for living - forwards. It is

mysterious and challenging and wonderful and daunting all at once. Life -

this huge beast - waits. It is not a holding-on-for-dear-life kind of

ride that lies ahead, but a yippee-bucking bronco-rodeo, ride, Sally,

ride experience of life. Feet keep moving on the path, the yellow brick

road beneath them. The chase is on - a mysterious, galloping, joyful kind

of thing. We’ll paddle a while, ride some, stop for lunch, maybe hike a

little. It will be what it is. It will be a journey. I will “listen to

the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul” as I ride this beast called

life and the voice you hear in the distance will be me yelling “yippee!”

* Cherril Doty is a creative living coach, writer and artist who lives

and works in Laguna Beach. She can be contacted by email at or by phone at (949) 251-3883.