I recently read Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book, Big Magic. It’s an easy read about living a creative life, written in a light, jocular tone. But the concept is deep and powerful. This reflects her approach to creative living - that it’s deeply important, but best to approach with a light touch.
She also believes that ideas are animate entities that need us to fully come alive. They are always on the lookout for a creative type that is open and interested enough to take them up. They stick with us as long as we are dedicated and give them our focus and hard work. If we turn our energy elsewhere, they may go find someone else who is more likely to make them manifest. If they aren’t cooperating, creative types like Tom Waits tell them to “go bother Leonard Cohen”.
Some of my favourite quotes are:
“You can resist the seductions of graniosity, blame, and shame. You can support other people in their creative efforts, acknowledging that there’s plenty of room for everyone. You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your success of failures. You can battle your demons ... instead of battling your gifts.”
“I think a lot of people quit pursuing creative lives because they’re scared of the word interesting. My favourite mediation teacher, Pema Chödrön once said that the biggest problem she sees with people’s meditation practice is that they quit just when things are starting to get interesting. Which is to say, they quit as soon as things aren’t easy anymore, as soon as it gets painful, or boring, or agitating. They quit as soon as they see something in their minds that scares them or hurts them. So they miss the good part, the wild part, the transformative part - the part when you push past the difficulty and enter into some raw new unexplored universe within yourself. ... Don’t let go of your courage the moment things stop being easy or rewarding. Because that moment? That’s the moment interesting begins.”
“I have a friend, an aspiring musician, whose sister said to her one day, quite reasonably, “What happens if you never get anything out of this? What happens if you pursue your passion forever, but success never comes? How will you feel then, having wasted your entire life for nothing?” My friend, with equal reason, replied, “If you can’t see what I’m already getting out of this, then I’ll never be able to explain it to you.”