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Chasing Down The Muse: Slowing down after a long, busy summer

“Yesterday is a dream. Tomorrow, a vision. But today, well lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”

— Sanskrit proverb

A cool breeze blows softly across my skin as I stand still watching the beautiful rufus hummingbird at the feeder. Even this rapid-movement creature seems to be slowing as it sits and sits and sits before flying off with a loud whir of its wings. Labor Day weekend has come to an end. The slowing that leads to the glorious October days here in town has begun.

I feel much like Leo Lionni’s Frederick the mouse on these early autumn days. Frederick, who lived with four other mice in an abandoned granary, was a gatherer, but not of the usual kind. While the other mice were collecting grains to store for food for the coming winter, Frederick just sat.


After the many long work days of the summer’s festival season, I am ready to just sit, too. Napping, reading, napping again — these seem just about right at this time. Of course, I take my morning walks and do some stretching, but that is more like routine eating would be.

Like Frederick, I am collecting sun rays, colors and words, for I know that I will soon need them for something. Just as on my long walks I collect bits and pieces that I will use in my upcycled art projects, so in my long sitting I am collecting bits and pieces. Like meditation, it is about concentration and inquiry and about the ability to simply be quiet and clear.

This is not always easy. Though still physically and emotionally exhausted from the summer’s adventure, it is still often not easy to be quiet and clear. Being ready to move on to “new” at times gets in the way of just being. Even one week past the end of the festival season, I find my mind struggles with its shut-off valve. But, like meditation, I just let whatever it is show up. No processing needed. Just gathering and collecting.

This is not an active process. This is a time for letting go. By just watching the world go by, I hope for new patterns of perception. There is never enough of the peace and stillness that come on the soft breezes. And so I just watch the hummingbird as it sits. A leaf drifts spiraling down from the tall trees above. The hummingbird flies off. The buzz of a bee can now be heard in the nearby honeysuckle. Wind chimes softly sound as they are moved by that same caressing breeze that touches my skin.


While all of this is settling, it also seems to bring a dash of zest to life. Perhaps it is just this simple awareness of what is life, what is going on right here in my presence. And so, after sitting for some time, I feel waked up and ready. I cannot yet know for just what I am ready. Like Frederick, though, the gathering has been good and I know that there will be use for the sounds and the sights and the smells…and the peace. And, yes, I will share when the time comes just as he did.

As with the Sanskrit proverb above, yesterday is now just a dream I had. I have visions for the coming tomorrows. For this moment, though, I will sit and sit and gather for the “well-lived” part.

CHERRIL DOTY is for the moment simply a gatherer of colors, sights, sounds, and more….if she’s not napping you may be able to reach her at 714.745.9973 or at