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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 949-251-3883