I know it would sound a lot sweeter and enlightened to say that the conception of this blog series is all about you, the audience. I could say that. But it would not be the entire truth. This week I had the privilege of reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Big Magic”. She is also the same author who wrote best-selling book, “Eat, Pray, Love”. This book is all about how to live a more creative life–which is not just reserved for the “artsy” types but for anyone who is looking to add more colour, fun, inspiration and fulfillment to their lives. Reading her book helped bring more clarity as to why I started this blog series, and inspired me to stay committed to “my art”. Let’s explore how you can benefit from “creative living”. And if you’re curious–why I did start this blog.
Re-Defining “The Artist”
When I used to hear about being more creative, my mind immediately would go to the realm of arts–music, dance, writers, performers. In the professional arena I tend to think of graphic artists, ad-execs, or interior designers. All of these professions seemed to require an artistic flair that I had never considered myself to be overly talented in. What a relief when I started reading Gilbert’s book and what she defines as living more creatively. Since she is such an elegant writer, I’ll tell you in her own words :
“The universe buries strange jewels within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them. The hunt to uncover those jewels–that’s creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place–that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
The journey to unleash our creative energy is where we find “Big Magic”. So being born a human is equivalent to being born an “artist”. We don’t necessarily make our “art” to earn a living, to seek fame, to gain validation, or to provide inspiration, or even help others. We just get to the business of “making things” for the enjoyment of “making things”. It’s what human have been doing for ages when we didn’t take ourselves so seriously and attach all sorts of judgements and expectations to our “art”. Creating things that interest us just makes for a grander life in of itself. That, alone, is the best argument for creative living.
“A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and hell of a lot more interesting life.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Where do I start?
I think every human is born with an impulse to create. We are all creative. Creativity is not reserved for just a special group of people with special “artsy” talents or “genius” inside of them. If you think about it, every thought, emotion or word you say is a creation of yours. According to Gilbert there are ideas floating around us all the time looking for the right human partner to bring it to life. In other words, ideas have a consciousness and energy about them. So, if you think everything has been invented, or you just don’t have a creative bone in you, or you have no idea what to create–take the pressure off and just know that the possibilities are limitless.
“To even call someone ‘a creative person’ is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species…If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
I think the very first step to living a more creative life is to just give yourself the space and permission to do it. If you are alive, you are entitled to create in this life, for just the mere enjoyment and experience of doing it. You define what creative living means to you. What hidden jewels within you have been calling out to you? And it doesn’t have to start and end there. You will evolve and grow, and so will your creative endeavours–see where inspiration will take you and allow yourself to follow it. So what are you today? A writer, a dancer, an entrepreneur, a traveler, a collector, a speaker, a leader, a singer, a jewellery maker, a pasta-necklace-maker! What? What is it that you want to explore, learn, and express into a creation? Think about what you can create that would delight your five physical senses–and especially your sixth one–your spirit.
“…I am going to spend as much time as I can creating delightful things out of my existence, because that’s what brings me awake and that’s what brings me alive.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Time to “Get Over Yourself” and Create
Many times what stops us from trying new things and living more creatively–either personally or professionally–is our neurotic commitment to argue for our limitations. Don’t get me wrong, I think it takes a lot of courage to lead a creative life. But, besides being boring–a non-creative life is also safer in many ways. You don’t have to wrestle with your self-doubt and possible rejection or “failure”. The fact that you think you can “fail” at your art already constricts your creative juices. So which fear takes a hold of you and stops your from living a creative life? I like the exhaustive list that Gilbert put together because I could relate to so many of them…here’s a taste :
“You’re afraid you have no talent.
You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or–worst of all–ignored.
You’re afraid somebody else already did it better.
You’re afraid your dreams are embarrassing.
You’re afraid that somebody you’ll look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money.
You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of discipline.
You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of work space, or financial freedom, or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration.”
I could identify with any of of these and then list 50 more on why I drag my feet, procrastinate, make excuses and refuse to jump into the deep end of the pool–even if I am wearing a life persever! Keeping our limitations at the forefront of our mind, while we are the midst of pursuing a bigger life does seem really counter-intuitive. But, it’s also the nature of the mind.
I think us humans are instinctively programmed to do whatever it takes to survive. But we aren’t programmed to do whatever it takes to thrive! And thriving is where creative living exists. So, creative living will ask that we do what we are afraid to do in the name of creative expression. It will ask us to make space for our fears–because we can’t just wish or think them away–but go forward in spite of them. Elizabeth suggests we talk to our fear, take it “on the road” with us, save it a seat since we know it’s coming anyway, but let it know it never gets to sit in the driver’s seat.
“Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into the realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
Why I Created This Blog
So reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book made seriously consider what my “art” is nowadays? Since entering into the world of personal development, I have been slowly shedding this false identity as a “non-creative” type. And now “Big Magic” has totally convinced me that a creative life is certainly one worth pursuing and is for anyone brave enough to do it. This train of thought inevitably lead me to where I spend much of my spare time these days–which is reading, studying, applying what I’ve learned and writing. The whole process, I suppose, is my creation–“my art”. I hesitated to call it that because, after all, many of the things I write about are not even my original thoughts–they’re borrowed by other gurus, mentors, teachers and thought-leaders. And then, applying what I am learning–well that could just as well be called “living life”. In fact, at one point, I had considered abandoning this whole “blogging” thing–I mean whose really reading it anyway? Does anyone really care? Is anyone even benefiting from it?
And enter, the biggest nugget that Elizabeth Gilbert’s book gifted me with, which is this–my “art” is for me first. It’s true. With that fact, I have not only given myself permission to create–I have bestowed upon myself the pure, limitless and utter freedom to create for me. My art doesn’t need to be validated. It’s existence doesn’t need to be justified. And it doesn’t even need to help anybody.
So why do I do it? Besides that I do thoroughly enjoy it. The main reason why I remain committed to my art is that it keeps me accountable to being better–constantly. I have committed myself to reading one new book a week, reflect on its wisdom and how it applies to me, write about what I learned, and then share it. Why not just read and skip the sharing part? For three reasons : 1) Writing about it forces me to study the book and really absorb the lessons. I highlight, tag, re-read, research and really take in what I am reading in a much more profound way when I have to turn around and explain it. 2) Sharing it with an audience keeps me accountable to my schedule and from indulging in my lazier habits. No one will necessarily call me out if I skip a week–but, just having that public commitment out there keeps me on my toes. 3) It’s my intention to create a community of like-minded people so that I can continue to grow and learn from other people’s experiences as well.
“Your own reason to create is reason enough. Merely by pursuing what you love, you may inadvertently end up helping us plenty.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
The icing on the cake, the cherry on top is when your art can inspire, positively influence and/or help other people. Personally, although I will continue at my art even if my audience came down to 1 person (me)–there’s an added “deliciousness” to the whole project knowing that it has also touched and helped others along the way. How do you live a creative life? Or, what is stopping you now? Have you run into your fears? How did you overcome them? In what ways has a creative life enhanced your life? Please share and leave your comments below.
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