Musing and Meaning

I love the word ‘musing’. It has a quality of meandering wonder about it. It is a process that comes very naturally to me and, as I write this, I realise it is the way in which I experience and act in the world. So here I am musing about musing!

The verb ‘to muse’ means to think about something very carefully in a detailed way or to be ‘absorbed in thought’; the word’s meaning from around 14th century*. It is derived from an Old French word ‘muser’, which means ‘to ponder, dream, wonder, loiter and waste time’.

Interesting that the thoroughly satisfying pursuits of wondering, pondering and dreaming were somehow classified as being frivolous and lazy. I wonder, if in the Middle Ages, whether the average woman had much time for musing? I suppose her thoughts may have been taken up with questions of survival. Perhaps this is why the definition seems to suggest airiness and flippancy. I feel confronted by this superficiality – this is not my experience of musing. For me wonder, dreaming and pondering are an integral part of living – being well – because they help me to make sense of the world, how to live in it and define my action.

My musings over the years have become bedrock. They have been responses to challenges and difficulties eliciting questions to gain understanding. The questions that have risen large in my mind have lead to hours of thinking, years of exploration and a lifetime of learning about what it is to be a human being. I have not only mused privately but have undertaken tertiary studies to find some answers to many questions pondered. I continue to envelope myself with content through books and media streams to gather what the musing quest needs to yield clarity and comprehension.

Musings have given me the tools I have needed to raise my children, create and nurture close relationships and support a myriad of people that I have had the privilege of serving in the community. The questions pondered have enabled me to build connection internally, discovering the values by which I live my life today. I rely on these values to guide me through tricky decision-making as I wade through life’s challenges. The richness of the responses to questions and layers of meaning and knowing, that sit deeply within my being, are the rewards derived from musing that so whole-heartedly supports living.

Musing feels soft and comforting at first, but with time I have discovered that it contains the stuff of courage and perseverance. Musing is not an optional extra or a nice thing to do – it shines a light on us so that we can see reality clearly and make hard choices. There have been times in my life where musing was necessary for survival. It was the reflection needed to help me gain clarity when living became difficult. This was not a quick, lightning-bolt experience of revelation. It was more like slow-drip coffee – a little increment of knowing, a small clearing of insight filtering through my mind. With time musing aided healing and reconnection and opened doors for a greater appreciation of truth.

Musing is so bound with my experience of life that it has shaped my path and written my story. I was born to muse and will continue to question, reflect, wonder and ponder in service of being and bringing the fruits of this process to benefit others. I wonder…do you muse? What’s your experience of musing? I invite you to reflect on how musing serves you.