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Chasing Down the Muse: Being used for a purpose and feeling fine

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. — Goethe

On yet another glorious day, I found myself walking the beaches of Crystal Cove. As usual, so many joys were be found there. Take the search for food: Pelicans and cormorants skimmed low across the water, then lifted and dived with a splash. A lone whimbrel buried its head deep in wet sand over and over. Twenty to 30 dolphins swam not 25 feet offshore as they hunted.

Terns and sandpipers searched along the shore, in and out among the rocks, as the waves ebbed and flowed. Sanderlings scurried in their small bunches. An unrecognizable screech sounded from a young bird, seemingly frustrated in its pursuit.

I had missed these long, leisurely walks much more than I had thought.


George Bernard Shaw was of course right when he said that “being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one” is “the true joy in life.” Still, being used up must be considered as well, and I was tired. It was time to return to the other joys in my life.

As I walked with the breeze cooling my sun-drenched skin, I found that I had the space and time to acknowledge myself for being on purpose and following my heart in taking on the Sawdust Studio Art Classes program nearly three and a half years ago. It had been a daunting task and a worthwhile one.

Now, at the end of my time there, I could also acknowledge that I had done a good job. The program had grown, as I had. It was time to move on. There are definitely “miles to go before I sleep,” as Robert Frost wrote.

While not exactly having a bucket list, I still have much that I want to do.


With work on one book completed and on the market, other options for combining art and writing continue to appear. Three new books in early stages should keep me plenty busy for a while — even if only one comes to fruition.

Sunday Studio Workshops, which feed heart and soul, continue monthly with fresh faces added all the time. The people who seem to have been attracted to these playtimes are pretty wonderful and have become good friends as well. I think that co-teacher Suzette Rosenthal would join me in saying we are truly blessed by this time well spent.

Lottery numbers were just pulled for the summer’s art festival, and I got the best number I ever have gotten. Guess I had better get down to it on the artwork as well. Much is already begun, and it makes my heart sing to get my hands into the clay and the paint and the paper and more.

Balancing walks with writing and artwork and time for friends and family — it’s all good. Shaw continued in his dedicatory letter to “Man and Superman” that he wanted to be thoroughly used up, “for the harder I work, the more I live.” As I continued my Crystal Cove walk that day, I found that I could not agree more.

CHERRIL DOTY is an artist and writer 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.