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.
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, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com