Book Bewitchery 101: Big Magic… what I’d suspected all along

December 9, 2015 Book reviewWriting  No comments

It just took Elizabeth Gilbert writing this beautiful piece of work, and hitting it over my head repeatedly, for me tofinallyget it. (And also, thanks to my wonderful friends who gifted me with this book in the first place.) 

Creating—writing, in my case—is not about the outcome (in fact, Gilbert says, it can’t be). It is not about how it is received by others. It is not about what others say or do or think about your creation. It is not about money. It is not about reviews or ratings or sale rankings. It is not about who knows you. It is not about numbers. It is not about success. It is not about suffering. It is not about saving the world. It is not about anything external. 

None of those things matter. 

Because creativity is not about anyone or anything else other than you reaching out and intermingling with the divine magic that is inspiration. It is about being open and receptive to a world beyond the one we see. It is about residing on a higher plane of existence, while your feet are still planted on this earthly one. It is about pursing your higher calling—your highest callingand daring to walk a noble path; “one that is richer, more textured, more varied.” 

It is about reaching out past the mundane, the temporary, the limiting, and dancing with something eternal, something mystical and mysterious and magical. 

It’s about casting off the trappings of this world: the confining roles and expectations and red-tape. 

“By completely absorbing our attention for a short and magical spell, it can relieve us temporarily from the dreadful burden of being who we are. Best of all, at the end of your creative adventure, you have a souvenir—something that you made, something to remind you forever of your brief but transformative encounter with inspiration.” 

 

It is about showing up, again and again and again, and daring to exist in a wondrous, enchanted place of play. 

Because, let’s be honest here: the fate of nations does not rest in the hands of your art. The future of the world does not rest on your art. The plots of terrorists do not depend on your art. No one is going to die because of it. (Well, for the most part.) 

You are free to do and make whatever you want. Whatever stirs your heart. Your mind. Your curiosity.

And, yes, I absolutely do believe that our artistic instincts have divine and magical origins, but that doesn’t mean we have to take it all so seriously, because—in the final analysis—I still perceive that human artistic expression is blessedly, refreshingly nonessential.

            And that’s why I love it so much.

Isn’t that so liberating? It’s like free-falling… removing all that unnecessary pressure. 

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Creativity is about the work itself. 

It’s about carving out time and space to create. And protecting it at all costs. In fact, instead of fitting in your creativity around your life, build your life around your creativity. (If we’re being real serious here.) 

“What is sacred is the time that you spend working on the project, and what that time does to expand your imagination, and what that expanded imagination does to transform your life. The more lightly you pass the that time, the brighter your existence becomes.”

 

It is about doing whatever you have to do to take care of your creativity—that abundant well of curiosity and contentment. Not the other way around.

That means taking whatever day job you need to take to pay the bills. It means not watching as much Netflix. Or not wasting time on things that really don’t matter (Facebook, I’m looking at you.)

“I’ve always felt like this is so cruel to your work—to demand a regular paycheck from it, as if creativity were a government job, or a trust fund.”

(This line of thinking has been particularly transformative for me. Because creating in secret, not expecting anything of it other than personal joy and fulfillment, has always felt like my natural way of being in the world. Not creating with the intention of getting something extrinsic out of it: money, attention, success, whatever. That all just feels really slimy to me.)

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Big Magic, written with such depth and honesty, has so much to offer to everyone. And by everyone, I mean everyone. Because every one of us has the ache to create inside of us—it’s a human thing. Some of us have just squelched it down so deep we’ve stopped hearing it’s call. It is there, though. We were all made to create. We all have the right to create. 

I especially recommend this to anyone struggling with their creativity—the actual process of it or just the idea of it.

Big Magic will forever have a place on my desk now. Right there in front, in sight and in mind. So whenever I find myself getting all twisted and tangled up about what it means to create, to live a creative life, it’s wisdom will never be more than a fingertip away. 

I’ll leave you with this: 

“You might spend your whole life following your curiosity and have absolutely nothing to show for it at the end—except one thing. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you passed your entire existence in devotion to the noble human virtue of inquisitiveness. And that should be more than enough for anyone to say that they lived a rich and splendid life.”

 

Until next time, farewell, & may your life never cease to be filled with wonder and curiosity.

 

photo creds: Ariellah

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