When I saw Elizabeth Gilbert’s amazing interview with Marie Forleo, I headed over to Amazon IMMEDIATELY and had Big Magic delivered to my Kindle via Amazon whispernet. (Damn you, 1-click). I knew about Gilbert’s latest book, but I wasn’t necessarily rushing to grab a copy. All that changed as soon as I saw Gilbert – in her signature down-to-earth, “let’s get real people” style – seriously debunking the myths that we hold about our creativity and creative process. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear is Gilbert’s unique offering of her wisdom on how to pragmatically yet soulfully live a creative life.
This isn’t a review in the strictest sense. What I’ll do instead is to share the things I learned, and the things that really came alive for me when I read Big Magic, in the hopes that you get something from it too. You know what they say. No two people ever read the same book.
You can take care of your creativity, like an adult.
In my neck of the woods – the heart-centred, lightworker part of town, I regularly witness the tension between “3D stuff” and the calling of one’s soul. Heart-centred lightworkers wanting to express their creativity in a meaningful and soulful way often get caught in this sort of very binary conundrum: pay the bills, do soul-sucking work, get a 9 to 5 j-o-b OR follow your heart, follow your bliss, follow your passion. Well, here’s Elizabeth Gilbert’s take on the whole thing:- the choice is available to you to see your j-o-b as something that can nurture your creative and spiritual talents or projects. In other words, you’re not demanding that your creativity take care of you financially, but you step up and take care of it.
That could mean finding OTHER ways of financially supporting yourself, of eating, of paying for your wireless internet, that do not directly come from the income you generate from your creative work. You make an agreement with your creativity that you will put a roof over its head and your head, so that you both can live comfortably and deeply enjoy each other’s company. When you take care of your creativity, you nurture it, you give it space to thrive and to grow…rather than demanding that it meet your physical survival, root chakra, day to day needs. When you do this, Big Magic happens. Creativity’s tummy is full, and it can go ahead and be its wonderful, natural, radiant self. (Think Snickers: you’re not you when you’re hungry).
This is not to suggest that this path is for everyone. Or that this applies to all stages of creative realization. Gilbert mentions in her book that eventually she gave up her j-o-b, when she realized that her creativity could fully support her needs and take care of her financially. You might be in a place where you can see your way with your creativity taking care of you and paying the bills; or your soul might just be demanding of you that you take the plunge and earn directly from your heart-centred creativity. You, and creativity out there, taking a beautiful, wonderful leap. The point here is this: if you need to, give yourself permission to untangle yourself from the notion that what you do for money, and your creative activity needs to be one and the same, all the time. Sometimes you will serve your creativity by cutting it some slack, and in a wonderfully agile way, doing what you need to do so that your creativity can thrive.
ALSO – please, please, please, don’t fall into the trap of subscribing to the belief that what you do for money needs to be soul-sucking, boring, and generally awful. So many of us are used to the experience of horrible, sleazy, monotonous work just to pay the bills, that it becomes woven into the fabric of our expectations. J-o-b = awful. Instead, how about j-o-b = interesting, learn something new, develop a great skill? (Such as Gilbert’s bartending). How about reconditioning our expectations, and vibrationally meeting what we do for money in a new way, so that we can magnetize an enjoyable experience? How about thinking outside the box in terms of how you can make money to take care of yourself and your creativity?
“If someday I got lucky enough to be paid for my work, that would be great, but in the meantime, money could always come from other places.”
Get over it, everyone wishes they had more time for their creativity.
Be agile, be flexible. Incorporate more and more of what you love to do in your life in agile, flexible ways. You’re not special in wishing you had more time to dedicate to your creativity. Get cracking with your creativity at 6 am, if necessary. Steal 15 minutes here and there. Enjoy the stolen moments with your creative expression. Celebrate those moments and savour them, rather than lament your lack of time.
“He didn’t quit his day job to follow his dream; he just folded his dream into his every day life.”
Do it for you, not for anyone else. Do it because you enjoy it.
I am so familiar with what I call the “Lightworker Service Complex.” I see it around me every day because of the people I interact with, and the places I frequent on the internet. Lightworkers have a deep need to serve the world with their creativity. There is a higher sense of service that is encoded into the lightworker’s very DNA. Don’t get me wrong – having a strong sense of how you fit into the collective is deeply, deeply important. Service is not bad. Of course we want to serve.
BUT – if you do it for you, out of the sheer sense of enjoyment that you have in experiencing your creative expression, service is the natural consequence. Lightworkers, you don’t have to make a Strategic Service Plan or anything. Service doesn’t have to be painful. I intuitively counsel with the Tarot because I absolutely love it. I enjoy Tarot, and that’s why I can be of service with it. Big Magic helps us to understand that anything done out of love and sheer enjoyment, “always becomes help”. This excerpt from Big Magic is definitely one to write out:
“Big Magic is obviously a self-help guide, right? But with all due respect and affection, I did not write this book for you. I wrote it for me. I wrote this book for my own pleasure, because I truly enjoy thinking about the subject of creativity. It’s enjoyable and useful for me to meditate on this topic. If what I’ve written here ends up helping you, that’s great, and I will be glad. That would be a wonderful side effect. But at the end of the day, I do what I do because I like doing it.”
Curiosity, not so much passion.
We’re soooo used to hearing “follow your passion.” But, let’s face it – sometimes we don’t know what our passion is, and the directive to follow it just becomes just another thing to stress us out. We may feel oddly ostracized from all the other people following their passion, and wonder what the hell is wrong with us because we haven’t figured out our “passion”. Gilbert wants to help us give ourselves permission to “forget about passion”, pointing out that sometimes the preaching of passion can be a “cruel, and even unhelpful thing.” We don’t have to sit around waiting for passion, and some days passion has gone off on vacation. Instead, we can ask ourselves the one question that curiosity poses to us: “Is there anything that you’re interested in? Anything? Even a tiny bit?” Curiosity is a clue on the path of our creativity – it draws us in, it’s there as a signpost. It gently whispers: “follow me.”
“Following that scavenger hunt of curiosity can lead you to amazing, unexpected places. It may even eventually lead you to your passion – albeit through a strange, untraceable passageway of back alleys, underground caves, and secret doors.”
Be light with your creativity.
“Make whatever you need to make and toss it out there.” Don’t be too precious with your creations…even though the paradox is that they come from that holy space of your creative genius. Your creations are holy, but then again, not so much. Give yourself permission to deal with your creativity with a sense of lightness; without the drama. If you speak Tarot, think about it this way: The Ace of Wands plus the Page of Cups. Take that creative spark, take that creative fire, and marry it with openness, curiosity, innocence and exploration. Don’t take yourself too seriously. This sense of “lightness” is so very important – because it FREES your creative flow. When your creations become too holy, you shut your creativity down. Get out of the way. Keep making stuff. Be light, and be agile.
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