Big Magic, Part 1

I finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic this week in the evenings after work, in between episodes of Criminal Minds on Netflix (questions of the day: how many hours have you spent watching Netflix instead of being productive?  Doesn’t it nauseate you?).  If you missed my earlier post about the book, you can read it here.

Big Magic is accessible and lighthearted, broken into six sections of short essays.  It’s not so much about how to generate brilliant ideas as it is a collections of thoughts on the nature of ideas and how to unleash them — because wonderful things are, Gilbert believes, already inside of us.  She defines creative living as “the hunt to uncover those [hidden] jewels.”

The first section is about having the courage to go on that hunt.  Gilbert lists a few of the many reasons we might be afraid — here are a few that resonated with me:

“You’re afraid your dreams are embarrassing.”

“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.”

The author then tells us about her childhood fear of just about everything — answering the phone, swimming in the ocean, the dark — and how she fought tooth and nail against the tough love of her mother, who forced her to confront all of these things.  And then at some point Gilbert realized there was no point in trying to hold onto her limitations.  And she tells us there is no reason we should do that, either.

I think this is a helpful way to frame fear and worry.  This week, I’ll be trying not to come up with reasons I can’t.

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