CHASING DOWN THE MUSE: Moment by moment on the creative path

I gradually understood that what we call the Creative Process is in no way limited to art or to individual acts of creating something. It is in fact a large ongoing movement in our lives, a force that has its own will and its own purpose"¦. "” B. Nina Holzer, “A Walk Between Heaven and Earth."


It seems the creative journey is very much like life itself "” mysterious, surprising in its unpredictability, and filled with miraculous “aha" moments. While, the process is chronologically linear, it spirals and dances about "” sometimes going in circles, repeating, or coming from some different angle. It is, like life, in the moment. I think that last is what I like so much about being creative. And about life. The focused pleasure of living moment to moment, with complete awareness, is the essence of all of it.

But where are the moments in the other-directed busyness of this time of year? Holiday events have already begun gathering focus and frenzy. With my oldest daughter and her family returning to live in California, there have been some decided shifts in my own attention. For instance, a leisurely cleaning and clearing sparked by my in-laws move last June has been sped up to warp speed of late.


Clear. Clean. Dump. The accumulation of years of living, moved around, but never tossed before, are now gone. Ming the Merciless was my apt nickname as I sent the “treasures" on their merry way. Whether they went into the trash or to my sister for her church’s thrift store or off to the Azores it simply didn’t matter any longer. They just had to go. And fast. The Aison-Doty foursome would be here in just weeks. They would be staying with us until they found a place. I had to make room. It was thus that words like leisurely and moment just seemed to disappear from my vocabulary.

And yet, the cleaning and the clearing and all that went with it also had its own precious qualities. There were moments of lingering over many items that had some sentimental attachment but that were dusty, threadbare, of no real use. There were moments of revisiting treasured tomes I have loved but will probably never read again. I was gifted with glances back in time with hindsight and awareness of how far we have come and the chance to treasure all of it "” joys and sorrows alike.

My family’s four lives had been lived out in this house. There was much to remember, much to value. Yet, certainly, as we all move on, as my daughter Kendall, her husband, Patrick, and their two sons, Christian and Hank, arrive, there is a future to build toward as well. Moving on. Moment to moment. Creative process.

The relics of past years are now gone, yet not forgotten. Just as I may paint over an old canvas, new memories will be painted over the old here in this house; new moments will replace those of the past in the unending, spiraling journey we call life. In fact, the moments are already here for the young family’s arrival from New York.


As the young people search for a new home, using this old one as base, the “aha" moments that appear are, of course, ever-delightful. The surprising unpredictability takes the form of delays in the installation of a long-awaited new stove, of plumbing problems, of the adjustments to time differences, and more. Still, it is life. The creative process of each day fills me with a sense of life’s abundance I would not trade.

It is a pure joy "” though sometimes a tiring one to be sure "” to move forward into this mysterious time of creating new memories that will overlay the old. It is what life is all about. It is a force.

Let the force be with us.

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer, and creative coach exploring the many mysteries of life in the moment. She can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at (949) 251-3883.