Chasing Down the Muse: 'Shift happens,' and we must embrace it

August 12, 2013|By Cherril Doty

Nothing lives up to what you imagine. It changes, shifts, becomes something else. — Simon Kinberg

Another gray morning sky? What an odd summer this one has been. This has gone on so long now that even those of us slow to notice must reckon there is a shift in weather patterns.

A shift seems to call out for acceptance. But do we accept it? Nah! Of course not. The shift becomes our favored topic of conversation. We posit all manner of reasons for the change. Like back-seat drivers or Monday-morning quarterbacks, we have all the answers.


You've seen the other bumper sticker, but I think there should be one that reads, "Shift Happens." Because it does. We seem to waste an awful lot of time bemoaning the fact rather than merely accepting change and looking for creative new ways to deal with it.

Three weeks ago, I had a complete hip replacement. Long overdue, I was looking forward to the aftermath and imagined my immediate mobility. My imagination was working overtime, I have to admit. While the surgery was without incident and the hospital stay was great, I am not quite up to the jigs I saw myself doing.

Not only is my new bionic hip not the iridescent colors of titanium that I have imagined, but movement has slowed for now, and I am forced to a patience and acceptance that is sometimes frustrating.

A part of me is disappointed, but in moments of clarity, the wiser me sees the gifts here. Shouldn't that be what happens with shifts instead of all the carrying on we do in the name of seeking answers to "Why?"

In acceptance of the shifts and the concomitant gifts, there is a kind of simplicity. We need only fold our arms around what is true: Mornings this summer are gray. But, oh, what marvelous afternoons filled with cool breezes and warm sunshine!

The bionic hip is probably a flat non-anodized gray. But my body already works better than before. No dancing jigs yet. But those blasted compression stockings are gone at last and things are looking up.

For me, the summer has brought other shifts too. Instead of feeling the pressure to spend long hours at the Sawdust Art Festival, where my art is on display, I have had to rely on others to help there. Instead of spending lots of time with grandkids, I have learned to value the brief times with them and enjoy each wild moment with these young boys.

More sunsets have been watched, books read and time spent with friends over lunch or a short walk. Independent practically since the moment I was born, I have been forced by circumstances to accept the help of others in oh so many ways.

Did I think I wanted to learn these lessons or even accept them as gifts? Bah! Shift happens. Acceptance of what is, while often difficult, does, however, bring a kind of calm.

Sure, we still hope for that morning when we wake up to not only the birdsong but the sun as well. It will happen. And I will take my iridescent bionic hip and go for a good long walk along the shore again.

It will be just another shift. I can accept that.

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 — and surprises — of life, she can be reached at or by phone at (714) 745-9973.

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