January 23, 2017 by femvestige
I am a fiction reader. I have a background in trauma, and though I live my life ambitiously – I don’t like to read about reality. I don’t like reading non-fiction because often times it is about overcoming adversity. Overcoming some type of trauma. That is my life. I don’t want to read about it. So I dive into made up lives – often with magic realism or fantastical elements because there’s a big part of me that believes in magic.
Maybe my fundamental belief that magic is real is why this book grabs me. I made a 2017 New Year resolution (I made several actually) that I would read 3 non-fiction books that would empower me. I wanted to step out of my make-believe bubble and try and read something that would directly affect my outlook on life. So far… I’d say I chose my first of three books well. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert was recommended to me by a friend. She must know me well because my first thought was…. nah. I’m good. Then I remembered my resolution, saw the earnest good will in my friend’s eyes, and promptly went and checked it out of the library the same day.
Confession: I never read Eat Pray Love. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a comfort reader. I didn’t know the book existed until it was a movie – and my mother loved the movie so I decided I wouldn’t watch it or read the book. Petty, I know. I just had no desire to. So I had no idea what to expect of Elizabeth Gilbert. I admit I did not like her voice for the first quarter of Big Magic. She is trying too hard to connect with the audience – trying to be ‘cool’ or ‘hip.’ She used the word ‘like’ in that annoying teenage context: like that was like totally not cool. She made references to Harry Potter. I’m a self-professed Potterhead, but I was not impressed.
What grabbed me was the concept of the ‘living idea.’ She describes an idea as a living entity, that shifts through the universe trying to find the right portal to get itself expressed and introduced the world. She describes people as being open to ideas or closed to ideas based on their relationship to fear, and how some ideas will wait for a person or some ideas will travel onto the next available portal (person). This idea intrigued me. I have had so many ideas for stories that I begin, but can never finish because they always leave me. I have developed a fear of a full-length novel because I have never been able to form a complete plot that could be novel worthy. Perhaps my fear has prevented a fully formed idea to plant itself within me. Meanwhile, some ideas I have had have been created by others. Almost like transference. What sold me was Elizabeth’s story of her own failed novel idea transferring to her author friend through a kiss. I said out loud, “Wow! How can you explain that?!”
Big Magic is broken into 6 sections: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity. I am currently in the Permission section.
Courage was about embracing our fear, and not letting it prevent us from achieving our hopes and dreams. She explains that when she is about to take a journey with creativity, she speaks to her fear.
“Dearest Fear: Creativity and I are about to go on a road trip together. I understand you’ll be joining us because you always do… There’s plenty of room in the vehicle for all of us… but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way... But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.” – Big Magic
This is a pretty creative way of acknowledging fear and being courageous enough to say that fear will not stop you from doing what you need to do.
Enchantment is where Elizabeth dives into the concept of the living idea and being open to letting ideas enter our bodies. This is where I started buying it. This is where I thought, I really need to start taking my ideas seriously. This is where I started questioning my own goals and dreams. Am I living creatively? Am I allowing myself to achieve what I really want to or am I letting my fear hold me back? I started reevaluating my career, and why I was still doing something I didn’t really enjoy. I started wondering why I let these fears control me. I had given my fear different names – names that contain more weight. Responsibility. Accountability. Requirement. I had done – am doing – what I have always done. I didn’t take fun classes in high school because those wouldn’t get me into college. I didn’t study abroad because I needed to focus on getting a career while I was in college. I let so many opportunities go because I was afraid that living creatively would hinder my ability to be successful. But now as time has passed me by, I find that success does not have the same definition to me that it used to.
Permission, the section I am reading now is all around allowing ourselves to live creatively; to be brave and say YES, I can do this; to allow ourselves the chance to explore.
I have officially begun my own steps of creative living. This book, though not completed, has caused me to take action. I am giving myself permission to look beyond where I currently am; to look ahead to the future that I want versus the one I think I need to be successful. I am excited. I am exhausted. I am scared.
Most of all, I want to see what Persistence, Trust, and Divinity have in store for me. And I need to add Eat Pray Love to my reading list. Oh Joy.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (read at 50%):
Rating out of 5: ✮✮✮✮✮
Genre: Self Help, Self Improvement, Motivation/Inspiration
Best Feature: Humor laced with no nonsense, no excuses voice.