Chasing Down the Muse: Plant words that resonate and see what sprouts

Nineteenth-century writer and poet Martin Farquhar Tupper says, "It is well to lie fallow for a while." Yet, in the 17th century, the more widely known Joseph Addison says that a mind "that lies fallow but a single day sprouts up in follies."

As I walked along the shore on this beautiful January morning, I was met with sunshine, birds soaring and swooping, a gentle breeze and the laughter of fellow walkers. Are these morning walks all that is needed of the fallow? It may be that this is so, for many seedlings seem to sprout from these moments in nature.

Both exhausted and invigorated from two weeks filled with joyful happenings and busyness in this new year, I considered the existence of a fallow time in which very little happens and the possible outcomes. Is that even possible in all of our busy lives?

Many of us have set into play resolutions and goals for 2014 already. Others of us, perhaps too busy or preoccupied with activities, have not yet done so. And some of us just never do, citing any number of reasons for the disinclination.

It has long been my practice to choose one or two words that represent attributes I would like to embrace over the coming year rather than set a to-do list of resolutions or goals. These words then become a sort of silent focus in the background as I go about daily living.

This reminds me a bit of fallow ground, since the seeds are planted and then left to flourish. Of course, some tending is required. In the case of the garden, water and sunshine and perhaps other added nutrients. The words only require an occasional check-in to see how they are doing.

This more passive approach to resolution works well for me and, over the years, many wonderful things have come to pass because of this method. If nothing else, it is a grand way to look at and review what we think we want versus what we tend to manifest and to hone and polish our dreams and desires.

You might choose abundance. Well, just what exactly does that mean to you? What about choosing to focus on possibility? When opportunities arise, do you grab them or let them slip through your fingers? The word "easy" might show up as it did for my good friend. This word might ultimately mean so many different things. In any case, it offers an opportunity to check in with oneself.

I don't mean to sound like I am opposed to resolutions and goals. It just hurts to see people beating themselves up and getting depressed when they don't lose those 30 pounds or exercise five times a week. But what is that weight loss and exercise really about? Perhaps embracing beauty or maybe health. Figuring that out seems essential to me.

Distracted for a moment by two busy hummingbirds that flit about an exuberantly flowered cape honeysuckle across the way, I mull over all of the questions and possibilities. I still need to plant my word seedling in my own fallow ground. There is a little corner in my heart for what the breezes may bring. I look forward to the seedling's arrival.

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist, writer and director of the Sawdust Studio Art Classes in Laguna Beach. Always fascinated, inspired, and titillated by the beauty and the ever-changing mysteries of life, she can be reached at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.

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