I had the absolute privilege to see Author Elizabeth Gilbert a few weeks ago here in Bend. Back when I was separated from my first husband I read her book Eat Pray Love (about her world traveling journey of discovery and finding herself after divorce). Her writing style and ability to communicate with me on such a personal level, like I could just call her up for coffee and hang out at any moment, made her my favorite writer.
Her new book BIG MAGIC came out in September and I promptly devoured it (twice) in less than three weeks. That woman has some amazing inspirational power with me. So of course, when I found out she was going to come speak in my town, the day tickets went on sale, I was up at 7am buying one.
The evening of her talk I was so nervous I was like a giddy school girl about to see her crush for the first time in the same room. Butterflies in my stomach, sweat beading under my arms. Crazy really. And yes I loved her talk as well as the answers she gave to the audience member questions. She was funny, charming, and thoughtful.
But let me tell you about her book. It’s all about creativity and how we as humans are creative beings, period. It doesn’t matter what you create, how you create it, or if you ever sell what you create, you are creative. As a woman who grew up in a family who really never thought any of us was creative, I didn’t think I was either. I have no doubt that I am now. And my family is too.
I walked away from reading her book and hearing her talk with renewed inspiration for my own creativity and permission for it to look like anything and nothing at all. I learned that we create for the love of creating. Not for the final outcome or product. Not for whether or not it sells. And not for what anyone else thinks about it. It just doesn’t freaking matter. The only thing that matters is that if you want to create, you must. Your soul depends on it. You’re very being hinges on having that connection with that idea and connection with the universe.
I have so many underlines and tabs in her book my husband suggested I might as well have just highlighted the entire thing. I’m sharing just a few of her quotes from the book because they resonated so deeply.
The first page of the book she asks the question, What is creativity? And she answers, The relationship between a human being and the mysteries of inspiration. That is what her book is about. Your relationship to your creativity through courage, enchantment, permission, persistence, trust, and divinity. She shares stories, and anecdotes, and thoughtful truths from her own experience as well as the thousands of people who have shared their stories with her.
“You can measure your worth by your dedication to your path, not by your successes or failures. You can believe that you are neither a slave to inspiration or its master, but something far more interesting—its partner—and that the two of you are working together toward something intriguing and worthwhile. You can live a long life, making and doing really cool things the entire time. You might earn a living with your pursuits or you might not, but you can recognize that this is not really the point. And at the end of your days, you can thank creativity for having blessed you with a charmed, interesting, passionate existence.”
“Because in the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience.”
“You do not need anybody’s permission to live a creative life.”
“Are you considering becoming a creative person? Too late, you already are one. To even call somebody “a creative person” is almost laughably redundant; creativity is the hallmark of our species. If you’re alive, you’re a creative person.”
“What would you do if you knew that you might very well fail? What do you love doing so much that the words failure and success essentially become irrelevant?”
“Anyhow— what else are you going to do with your time here on earth—not make things? Not do interesting stuff? Not follow your love and your curiosity?”
And possibly my most favorite sentence in her book, “What you produce is not necessarily always sacred, what is sacred is the time you spend working on the project, and what that time does to expand your imagination, and what that expanded imagination does to transform your life.”
A young boy of maybe 10 asked Elizabeth an intense question about drive and passion and being relentless in his pursuit of being a poet. If you could have heard the ferocity in his voice you wouldn’t have believed it was coming from this tiny young man. But her response was perfect. She said yes, having that drive, passion, and relentlessness would be helpful. And she really didn’t think he would have a problem with that. But, she said, please please make sure you are becoming a poet because you love it, not because of what others will think of your work, and whether you make it to the top. Because if that’s the only reason you’re doing it, you will be miserable. Your self worth will depend upon other people and you do not ever want your self worth to depend upon anyone’s opinion of your work. Do it because you love it. Period. That is the reward.
What do I know to be true right now?
Elizabeth Gilbert is such a fierce force for what is good and right in the world. I am so fortunate to have found her as a mentor. Even if I never meet her in person, she will continue to help guide me through her words.
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