“If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
I carried around Big Magic for about a year before I actually started to read it. I’d throw it in my bag to read on the train, it rested on my bedside table as I slept, it went on vacations with me. I’ve always loved Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing and I was excited to have a new work of hers to dive into, but something was stopping me from opening that beautiful cover. I didn’t actually start to read it until this summer, when I was deep into creating Shine Soul Bright.
As much fun as I’ve had envisioning and creating Shine Soul Bright, the process of launching it also brought up a lot of stress and fears. I was anxious about finding the time to work on the blog while working long hours at my practice; I was scared to put myself out there in a new way; and I was fighting my perfectionist nature which told me to just wait until everything was absolutely perfect before moving forward.
Now, looking back, I realize that I opened the book at the exact right moment, the moment that I was ready to hear the lessons inside it and the moment that they were going to have the most impact on me. Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down! It was the most refreshing and inspirational take on creativity I have ever encountered.
This entire book is a gem and I highly recommend it to all, but I wanted to discuss a few key lessons I learned from Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
The most touching and magical lesson I drew from this illuminating book is that the planet is inhabited by ideas. Ideas are part of our ecosystem and biosphere; they interact with us and move through us, they have a destiny and purpose just like each and every one of us. Ideas dance through this planet searching for a human to collaborate with. If we’re not open to receiving an idea when it taps on our shoulder, it will go find someone else to create with. I love this concept because it tells us that we are ALL creative; we are actually designed to create. It doesn’t matter what your financial situation is, if you went to art school or if you have a creative job; creativity is our shared inheritance.
I also cherish Gilbert’s discussion of curiosity. She tells us that curiosity is our friend, a friend that teaches us to become ourselves. If you don’t know what you’re passionate about or what you want to create–honestly, most people do not walk around in a constant state of passion over their work–well, then, follow your curiosity, no matter how small of a whisper it is. Following your curiosity may lead you to your passion, to wonderful, unexpected places, or it may lead you nowhere, but at least you “will have the satisfaction of knowing that you passed your entire existence in devotion to the noble virtue of inquisitiveness,” Gilbert writes. At least you will have kept moving and created something new along the journey, and that’s pretty amazing.
Gilbert’s dig into perfectionism was especially affecting for me. She calls perfectionism “a high-end, haute couture version of fear…perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when it’s actually terrified. Because underneath the shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, ‘I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.’” This was a very important lesson for me as I tend to leave projects uncompleted–or even, unattempted!–because I am afraid to put it out there until it’s perfect. In fact, you wouldn’t be reading this blog right now if it weren’t for this lesson! I was ready to hear Gilbert’s lesson when I finally opened this book: Just keep moving; put your work out there; perfection is unachievable.
I’ll leave you with a few quotes from Big Magic that capture beautifully the essence of this book. And if you want to learn more about this topic and book, I highly recommend listening to Elizabeth Gilbert talk with Krista Tippett on her podcast: “On Being with Krista Tippett.” Choosing Curiosity Over Fear.
“The essential ingredients for creativity remain exactly the same for everybody: courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust–and those elements are universally accessible. Which does not mean creative living is always easy, it merely means that creative living is always possible.”
“Creativity is sacred, and it is not sacred. What we make matters enormously, and it doesn’t matter at all. We toil alone, and we are accompanied by spirits. We are terrified, and we are brave. Art is a crushing chore and a wonderful privilege. Only when we are at our most playful can divinity finally get serious with us.”