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Dancing over hill ... and hill

Chasing down the muse

Morning sunlight glistens on the perfect form of the spider web in

the tree outside my window. Next to it in an open window is another

spider web that appears more random in its construction. It occurs to


me that these two webs are simply representative of different ways of

doing things, different ways, perhaps, of chasing after one’s own


“What do you mean by ‘chasing down the Muse’?” I am often asked


this question. The answer is both simple and complex. The Muse is

what inspires us, titillates, calls up our joy or our purpose in

life. This is a very individual thing and might be found on a trip to

some faraway place or in the grass on one’s feet or in a dirty

alleyway. The chase, itself, is what is individual. Still, there are


A lot of the chase is about finding out who you are, what you

want, what brings you joy. Recently, I skimmed an article in a


doctor’s waiting room. Its premise was that we need to teach our

children joy in order to fend off depression. I would take it a step

further-teach self-efficacy and they will discover their own joys.

Teach children to know their power to make lemonade from lemons, to

be creative in their daily life. Teach them to dance with life in the

form in which life comes-not to settle, but to face the new obstacles

or challenges with a hunger and enthusiasm to learn. This morning my

Muse shows up in the glistening sunlight. I need to go nowhere. I am


fed by the silence and beauty of the moment. I can move on to

creative endeavors with renewed energy and sense of purpose. This

“dance” is a slow and easy one.

Last week my Muse surprised me (will I never learn?) by showing up

in a place I had thought was for another purpose. I was just in that

place to finish, to get through a quest started months ago. What

glorious surprise awaited me! Walking in moonlight on San Francisco’s

waterfront, we began going west through Fisherman’s Wharf. The news

had stated there were more than 4,000 participants in this

fund-raising marathon put on by the San Francisco Chronicle. Many of

us who were walking the 26.2 miles rather than running them had

started an hour ahead of the official 6 a.m. start and it seemed more

like an early morning walk with a group of friends.

Then, continuing west along the Marina with a view of the Golden

Gate Bridge and the Bay, just past the Palace of Fine Arts, with the

sun rising at our backs, the pack began to appear, running swiftly

past. Intent, upright, with bodies stretching out to move forward at

a rapid pace-these runners were on a mission (their “chase” much

different than my own). The number of runners steadily increased as

we left the Presidio area and passed through the Richmond District

and down into Golden Gate Park. I found I had been looking forward to

this part and wasn’t disappointed. But how could it top the sunrise

and the buffalo roaming and the bridge and the redwoods? So much to

see and experience -- “alone” and on foot. (What happened to getting

“through” this?)

By the time we were headed out the Great Highway along the ocean,

the upright runners had long ago passed. We then turned and headed

back down and through the park, up into the Haight-Ashbury area, down

into the Mission District, and past the Giants Baseball Stadium where

people were gathering for the afternoon game with the Dodgers. Almost

finished. And the Muse? She had been with me the whole way -- in the

sunrise, in the swans waking in the wet grass of the Presidio, in the

explorations of color and form in the Haight. This entire journey was

a feast for the senses and an unexpected joy provided by my Muse.

What a “dance”!

What of the guidelines for the chase?

Be eager, willing, and open to the form in which inspiration may

come. Be willing to take risks, whether measured steps or giant


Explore new things.

Be aware -- examination leads to the creative.

Act with intention and integrity.

Become part of process, for this is where we find focus, momentum,

and empowerment-self-efficacy, in other words ...

“He who kisses the joy as it flies lives in eternity’s sunrise.”


* CHERRIL DOTY is a creative living coach, writer, and artist who

lives and works in Laguna Beach. Please contact her by e-mail at or by phone at 949-251-3883