Paddle Surfer Wisdom

Last week on Kauai, my husband met a weathered paddle surfer who claims a he’e (octopus) helps him navigate the sometimes treacherous ocean waters.   I love stories like this. Whether you believe it literally, or enjoy it as a colorful myth, the paddle surfer’s story also makes a wonderful metaphor.

paddle surfer

I’ve spent a lot of time here talking about my Muse.  But now I’m thinking about how the inspirational muse and the navigational octopus could work together in the creative process.

My Muse feels like an ethereal guest.  He’s pouty, he has ADD and he owns a perpetually broken watch.  Though he drives me crazy, his dynamic personality and vivid tales color the room with brilliant imagery when he chooses to visit.

But do I have a creative he’e?  And if so, what purpose does she serve?

I imagine an ancient and wise creature living in the deep waters of my subconscious. Always there, silently watching.  Hers is the voice that bubbles up when I berate myself for not working on one of my unfinished novels.  That quietly whispers in my ear:  “No, Sandy.  You’re supposed to be writing about creativity now.”


My he’e knows which current flows smoothly in the direction I’m headed.  She nudges me away from the dangerous undertow that threatens to sweep me far from my center.  But this insightful octopus speaks softly, watching as I often do the exact opposite of what she’s suggested.

“The animals know things,” the paddle surfer told my husband.  “You just have to listen to them.”

I’d like to believe we all have a creative creature residing in our deep waters and steering us in the right direction.  It’s the voice you hear in those small moments when you stop listening to all the other noise in your head. When you stop thinking and stop doing and allow yourself to simply be.

I’m going to work on tapping into the muse’s amazing bursts of inspiration while still hearing the quiet wisdom of the he’e.  I can imagine that doing this consistently could make it possible to reach amazing creative heights.

Copyright © Sandy Ackers, Strangling My Muse: Struggling to Live a Creative Life in a Stressful World,

8 Responses to “Paddle Surfer Wisdom”

  1. 1 slacker-chick June 30, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Our muse animal – that’s a lovely idea – I guess mine would have to be the sloth, no? :-> I hope you had an absolutely fabulous time in Kauai.

  2. 2 stranglingmymuse June 30, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Yes, absolutely fabulous! I’m looking forward to seeing your blog post about your inner sloth…

  3. 3 Ax July 3, 2009 at 3:24 am

    I think my he’e is the shark-suffocating Seattle Aquarium type … I’m scared…

  4. 4 stranglingmymuse July 5, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    That IS scary! At least it is if you’re the shark…

  5. 5 Susan Bearman July 13, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Hi, Sandy. I found you via SheWrites (I’m loving watching that community emerge). I was attracted to your blog because of the name. I recently posted Confused by the Muse over on Two Kinds of People. I love that your muse is a male — seems the muses are traditionally female.

    I like your blog very much and am adding it to my blogroll. Hope to see you around SheWrites.

  6. 6 stranglingmymuse July 13, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    I love your “Confused by the Muse” post, Susan — thanks for sharing it. And thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I like your blog too, so I’ve added you to mine.

  1. 1 Creating Amidst Chaos « Strangling My Muse Trackback on July 10, 2009 at 11:21 am
  2. 2 Lovely Words Vol. 5 – Writing as a Sacred Art Trackback on February 14, 2010 at 6:17 am

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Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

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