Big Magic was yet another book I needed to reinforce my subconscious understanding of life and purpose. I decided to finally listen to the book with the beautiful cover after a friend of mine gave me a spoiler. She told me about a story that Elizabeth Gilbert shared in the first few chapters – one that is a far better indicator of this book’s merit than the synopsis, and one that I’ll describe here.
Elizabeth Gilbert had an idea for a novel about a middle-aged woman who’s in love with her boss and sent on an assignment in the Amazon to deal with a mysterious business problem, and it’s a love story. She toils on this idea and then, because life happens, neglects it until the idea until she has to put the novel away entirely. At about the same time, she befriends Ann Patchett. In a short while, Ann starts hinting at a new story idea….about a woman who’s in love with her boss and sent on an assignment to deal with a mysterious business problem, and it’s a love story. Elizabeth Gilbert believes the idea traveled from her to Ann when they ignited their friendship. She suggests that there are limitless ideas traveling just looking for the right person to give them life. I loved this concept of ideas – it was magical and thus I had to read on.
I put off picking up this book because I didn’t think I was afraid to be creative. And maybe I’m not, but I haven’t always been this way. It wasn’t until recently that I decided to take charge of my creativity and find an outlet through writing. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted my writing to be about, so I just created a ‘dope,’ but ‘arbitrary’ blog to express all of my creative whims. Now I get up early in the morning to write or curate content for my blog. Then, I close my laptop and get ready for work. It was especially magical when Elizabeth Gilbert gave my journey a name and value.
When I talk about “creative living” here, please understand that I am not necessarily talking about pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts…One of the coolest examples of creative living that I’ve seen in recent years, for instance, came from my friends Susan, who took up figure skating when she was forty years old.
The figure skater, like me, got up extra early to work on something that brought her great joy, and then proceeded to go on with her everyday life. Often, we think that to be truly creative, we must quit our day jobs and throw caution to the wind. We have to delete our backup plans, as Will Smith would suggest, and express our creativity at all costs. But that thought alone could dampen the creativity of hundreds, thousands, millions. Why even bother doing anything creative if we can’t give it our all, we think. It’s beyond refreshing to hear that there’s room for creative living in everyday life. That you can keep your job, your home, and a bit of a social life, and still chase your curiosities. “A creative life is an amplified life.” So, shouldn’t we all strive for one no matter how big or small?
My favorite chapter of the book was “Scary, Scary, Scary” because it felt the most intimate. Here she lists every fear and insecurity that can and has prevented creative individuals from living their best life. Every fear and insecurity that has prevented me from living my best life. For example, fear of lack of talent, fear of criticism, fear that your work isn’t important enough, fear that you lack discipline….Have you felt any of these? I still do.
I didn’t need permission to start this blog, but Big Magic felt like a giant permission slip, granting me all the rights, privileges, freedoms to continue doing what I enjoy simply because I want to.
I would recommend this book to anyone who ever had an idea because I guarantee you’ll find something you can relate to, or maybe you’ll find something that changes how you perceive creativity. Maybe after reading it, you’ll be inspired to “have an affair with your most creative self.” I’ve found that creativity can be incredibly sexy.