A long time ago my cousin turned me on to the book “Eat, Pray, Love.” I, of course, skipped the book and went straight to the movie. The reason why my cousin liked the story so much is that she went to the same places that Elizabeth Gilbert traveled to and even visited the same medicine man, Ketut, in Bali. I did enjoy the movie but I have enjoyed learning about Elizabeth Gilbert even more.
Elizabeth Gilbert has a new book coming out called “Big Magic.” It has to do with creative minds and how we give ourselves space to create and the psychology that we struggle with in art. Immediately after her amazing success on “Eat, Pray, Love,” she suffered from fears about future work bombing, which it did. Before it bombed, and her previous work to “Eat, Pray, Love” that bombed, she began looking at the psychological construct of failure. Hence, “Big Magic,” that is being released in a couple of weeks. She’s started a podcast where she spends almost 30 minutes interviewing some random, beautiful creative that’s working a desk job (or no job or the worst job in the world) and writing on the side (or fumbling with it for real). She goes through their “block” to see what their issues are with doing new work or finishing a book or even getting any words to the paper. Then she spends her next interview with some other writer to see if they can help her help that person.
… And I’m not talking about struggles like “I’m not sure what to do with my lead character.” Struggles more along the lines of “I’m a stay at home mom and I feel very guilty for carving out time to write,” or “I’m very nervous to write about this experience that is so personal.” It’s all very organic, very personal and very beautiful.
All of this has led me to revisit a couple ideas… It has taken me a long time to realize that there is no one else responsible for me not doing anything with my art (whether that is music, painting, writing, whatever).
If there are people in my life that think it is silly or that expressing art to the world for the sake of maybe helping just one soul make it through the day, then they can just think what they want. It should be no road block for me. Wanting to express myself through art is not an egotistical approach for me, it’s a sharing of myself to you! For every ten people that think something I do is silly or dumb, hopefully there is one person out there that needed to hear it or see it or was uplifted by it.
Creatives get a bad reputation sometimes. I watched Gilbert give a TedX talk and she said before the renaissance, when artists created something they took absolutely zero credit for it. They believed that a little deity (called a genius) inhabited the person and helped them create the art. When the art was finished, the genius left. During the renaissance they started calling themselves geniuses. A very egotistical and detrimental move. This change in mindset placed a huge burden on the artist… They felt worried that they were not good enough for the task at hand. Their egos were either being praised or bruised. I find it much more freeing to believe that the spirit within me is helping me create my art than me slaving away at it forcing square pegs to fit through circle holes.
I can only bring myself to the task of an art. If what I have created is inspiring, uplifting or helpful to another person then my spirit showed up and blessed the work… My light shined for that individual.
Not using our God given talents is putting a bushel basket over a lampstand. For a long while I believed that people who weren’t “famous” were not impactful and therefore were self-serving with their art, only because people in my life were saying that about artists around me… Which was a strange stance for someone who used to love going to hear local bands in her 20’s. It’s taken me to reprogram myself to my original belief that God blesses people with these talents and gifts and to not use them is a disservice to everyone, therefore not fulfilling to God.
In one of her podcasts, Gilbert talked about how having a gift/talent can be a tremendous burden if we don’t use it. I know this pain all to well. Many, many, many times in life I would hear a song or a band or something and would get this pit in the core of my stomach. Instantaneously my chin would quiver. SOMETIMES this happened during particular songs only (like Aretha Franklin singing “Nessun Dorma” or Luciano Pavoratti singing “Miss Sarajevo” with U2) but sometimes for no apparent reason, other than to tell me it needed to come out. My talent was burdening me to be released. Not using a talent is pure torture, and I began to hate having the talent I wanted nothing to do with until I realized that I didn’t pick these talents out of a box to go try out, God chose those talents FOR me and for me to share WITH others.
So let us put aside all these things of ego and focus on the things God gave us. Whether you’re a photographer, painter, actor, clothing designer, cake maker… Just do you! Your light will shine and someone will see and be radiated because of it.