CHASING DOWN THE MUSE
When I was very young, one of my favorite things to do was to drag
my somewhat rusty red wagon out behind me along roads and trails. I
was looking, just looking, and walking.
I suppose I had some idea of treasure in mind, but it never really
mattered if I came home with the same empty wagon or one filled with
broken bits, snake skins, sticks, leaves, sometimes the odd abandoned
nest. My treasure was evidence that the world existed and I in it.
I suppose I still drag that wagon along behind me in some
figurative sense as I walk the byways of Laguna and elsewhere. The
walking and the “wagon” are how I chase the muse. They are a way of
solving mysteries with which my intellect struggles in vain. They are
where action lines up with being for me.
On a given day, the sound of pounding surf sweeps up from the
beach through the canyon, echoing off its sloping walls. It reaches
through my fogged sleep to waken me and I struggle through the mental
haze that envelops me to get up in the pre-dawn darkness. The canyon
is silent -- too early for the rich chorus of warbles and caws that
will soon greet the morning. Throwing on clothing, I brush my teeth,
grab a visor and glasses for later and set off down the hill.
Right away, the strong bitter smell of crushed eucalyptus globules
drifts up from beneath my feet. Though in the dark of the early
morning I cannot see them, the smell is a welcome, comforting part of
this canyon. These stately old trees continue their stubborn survival
against pests and city managers. The eucalyptuses in this canyon are
home to many birds, among them the crow, the red-tailed hawk and the
blue birds that give this canyon its name.
I continue walking and, lost in thought, it seems no time before I
am crunching bits of broken shell beneath my feet along the
shoreline. The warming sun strikes the back of my neck as it crests
the hills now behind me. The contrast of the cool, moist air that
lightly touches my skin and the heat of the sun creates an odd
sensation that I cannot quite define. Seagulls gather in a silent
congregation at the edge of the water, staring out to sea. Small
black flies swarm over a mass of strong-smelling seaweed washed up on
the sand. Soon the early morning will bring out the city crew with
their machinery to sweep the sands clear of this detritus.
Reaching Crescent Point, I pause to stretch and watch the sea
lions at their home on an offshore rock. I turn and, deciding to
explore the streets of the north end of town, move uphill to High
Drive. I think fondly of my friend Marielle, who once lived here and
of all that she taught me about being in the moment. The
spiky-armored trunk of a silk floss tree near where she lived gives
rise to an odd sight. Lush pink flowers fill the eastern half of the
South African native, while the western side bears only yellow-green
leaves. My feet don’t even break stride, but my mind pauses to ponder
the mystery of nature’s ways.
Crossing Broadway, I again hear the crash of waves at Main Beach.
I am now heading home and pick up my pace as I think of the full day
ahead. Before long, lost in thought, I lose all sense of self, of
time, of separation. I think of John Muir’s encouraging words of
being one with our surroundings. All of my senses have been fed on
this walk. How could I not feel full and enriched by this?
Before I know it, I am nearing home again, and I notice the
graceful droop of a eucalyptus branch near the ground to my left.
Blue-gray seed capsules nestle amid deep green sickle-shaped leaves.
A creamy white burst of flower emanates from one of the capsules. The
life of the tree continues to flourish.
As I arrive home, my figurative red wagon is filled with the
flotsam and jetsam of everyday life in this town. It is filled with
ideas and inspirations and dreams. The wagon is a magical container
for all that is possible now and in the future. So I will continue
walking and dragging this rusty relic along, if even only in my
Take your own walk. It can be true joy.
* CHERRIL DOTY is a creative living coach, writer, artist, and
walker who lives and works in Laguna Beach. Contact her by e-mail at
email@example.com or by phone at (949) 251-3883. Your thoughts and
questions are appreciated.