Wisdom From a Paddle Surfer

I’m on vacation, visiting family, friends and old college pals in my home state of Virginia, so I’m offering one of my most popular posts:

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, http://www.stranglingmymuse.com


6 Responses to “Wisdom From a Paddle Surfer”

  1. 1 Kathy June 8, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Hope you’re enjoying your vacation, Sandy! Thanks for the encouraging post – really need this right now.

    • 2 stranglingmymuse June 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks, Kathy — I’m having a great vacation. I’m glad this post is helpful to you! Good luck with your writing.


  2. 3 writesprite June 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    You know, Sandy, I think we all have one! I think it might even be our Muse’s alter ego. Of course, our Muse would have to be a shape shifter, wouldn’t it?

    My Sprite is my little bratty muse but she only talks to me when she feels like it. Tsk!

    For the record, Mark David Gerson, who use to live in Hawai’i, reminded me that, being in Honolulu, my writing prompts, etc. are all around me. Yes, I know. But, my Sprite tends to ignore it ’cause she thinks she’s all that! 🙂

    Love the he’e idea but still prefer the mano (shark). So when are YOU coming to visit?!?

    • 4 stranglingmymuse June 8, 2010 at 8:20 pm

      Hi Evelyn, thanks for your comment! I believe anything that inspires creativity is a good thing, whether it’s a muse, sprite, he’e, shark, beautiful nature or imaginary friend.

      I did visit Kauai a year ago with my husband right before writing this post — we always have a great time in your beautiful state!


  3. 5 writesprite June 9, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Lunch on me when you get to O’ahu next! Give us a heads up to let us know you’re coming, okay? 🙂

    I know — money. Story of my life: underweight in money and overweight around the waste. Sigh, life’s eternal struggles.

    BUT, blogger meet ups are a chance to ignore both!

    • 6 stranglingmymuse June 10, 2010 at 8:34 am

      Sounds great — I don’t get your way as often as I’d like, but I’d love to meet you next time I do!


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Kaizen-Muse Creativity Coach and Writer.

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