“Big Magic” in the New Year
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all. The hunt to uncover these jewels, that’s creative living.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
This post has been long overdue (an year to be precise). The timing now seemed perfect as we are ringing in the New Year. New Year is all about new resolutions, new beginnings and I hope Big Magic might strike a chord in you like it did with me.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame) has been one of the most influential books I’ve read recently. It is about finding a way to express our innate talent, live beyond the fear and resistance and that subsequent feeling of inexplicable joy and liberation. She defines Creativity as the relationship between human being and the mysteries of inspiration. Sounds complicated? Just think about living a life driven more strongly by curiosity than fear.
I loved how Gilbert addressed the fears that impede us from our creative pursuits and changed my perspective on what creativity is. Here are some of the excerpts from the book that really resonated with me.
How to become creative?
Historical evidence of art by humans was 40,000 years ago while agriculture was 10,000 years ago. Our ancestors thought it was more important to be creative than to have food for a living. We are inherently creative, you don’t need to become one.
How Ideas work?
Have you ever wondered how a book just published was based on the same idea you once had?
Or how multiple scientists at the same time invent something simultaneously.
Gilbert believes ideas are energetic, disembodied life form. When an idea wants to be materialized, it pays you a visit. You may or may not be receptive. If you are not receptive, then the idea knocks on someone else’s door until it finds a partner. If you are open enough to be receptive – You will see signs. Everything you see and touch and do will remind you of this idea. I know it sounds like voodoo but kind of makes sense if you ever experienced that sort of thing..?
Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them
Why we kill creativity?
FEAR. Have you been afraid to do something because –
you have no talent,
you are afraid of being criticized,
your work is not creative enough,
you are afraid of being rejected,
you are too old/too young to start,
your dreams are embarrassing,
you are afraid of being exposed as a hack or narcissist?
Gilbert lists 2 pages full of reasons why one is afraid of doing something creative.
Even she had to conquer fear. She was able to do it after realizing that fear is boring. And fear is the same every damn day. There is nothing new in your life with fear. You need to let go of it at some point!
She gives an example of a 40 year old woman who overcame fear, self consciousness and took up figure skating. Skating was a way for her to unfold a certain beauty and transcendence within her life that she could not seem to access in any other manner.
If you cannot win, you must not play
This is a prime reason why dreams end up being dreams. Guess what, the 40 year old lady in the example above did not end up winning a championship. Kids give up on their dreams at an impressionable age because they are told that they are not good enough. Be the best in what you do otherwise don’t do it! This is absurd and sounds ridiculous but happens to every kid (even adult) every day.
This may not be relevant to us but Gilbert disproves the long standing notion that you need to be a martyr to be a creative genius i.e. A creative genius needs to live a short life of tragic glamor to a long life of rich satisfaction. You don’t need to be brooding poet or be succumbed by your creativity and die alone. You can neither be a slave nor a master but work together with your creativity and have a good balance AND live a long life.
Did you ever dream of a story at night and try to frantically recall or write it down the next morning? It happens to many of us but creativity is not about waiting for that to happen. Keep doing what you do (creating) and be persistent and the stories will flow naturally. Set a time and do it every single day. Don’t wait forever for that creative spark to ignite you.
Original vs Authentic
Something that I personally struggle with. I think of a brilliant idea, google it and discover that it had already been done! True, but it is not done by you. Put your own passion and expression into it and it will become yours.
Let go of perfection. Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, hell even from beginning their work (raise your hand if you are guilty. I know we all are at some point). No matter how many hours you spend, somebody will always find fault in it.
Your education is not over when someone says it’s over, it’s over when YOU say it’s over. Keep learning and educating yourself.
Curiosity vs Passion
Passion is overrated because some people have multiple passions and some have none. Think about what you are passionate about enough that you can endure the most disagreeable parts of the work even when it sucks. Curiosity drives passion. Be curious, be creative.
No one has the time
Even great artists do not have enough time to pursue their art. No one ever has set amount of free time. They make time even if it is only half an hour. Find any means necessary for your creativity. Give up sleep or wake up in the middle of the night but find time.
Nobody is thinking about you. They are thinking about themselves most of the time. They may stumble upon your work, think about it or criticize it for a short while but life goes on and they go back to thinking about themselves. Realize that no is ever thinking about you! Do it whether people get it or not. Do it for yourself.
Do your best with what you know, work with what you have, in the time you are given but do not turn around and walk away.
I wish you all a very Happy New Year and may Big Magic happen to you this year. Let your creativity run wild!
“Something unknown is doing we don’t know what.” – Arthur Eddington
I am Aswani Kurra. I am an engineer, dreamer and part-time wanderlust, writer and wine lover. I always had an urge to write, create and travel. So I created this space to satisfy my creative itch and combine all my skills to help you plan your Charming Escape.