I am not a “resolutioner” when the new year rolls around because I have been a frequent victim of goal overload. However, I do look at each January as a time for reflection, introspection, and inspiration. If you need some of that right now, have I got a great read for you! I recently finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert in front of a crackling fire with cats on my lap while icy winds howled outside our window.
I’ve never considered myself to be creative. I can’t draw, act, write songs or novels, or do stand-up comedy. I don’t really know what to say when another person tells me that I am creative. I usually just scoff, argue mildly with the compliment-giver, and make everyone feel uncomfortable. What I didn’t realize before I read Big Magic is that creative people are not a subset of the population. Instead we are all, every single last one of us, ready and able to create.
A wise coach recommended this book to me because at this very time in my life, I am struggling a little to find my way. The big thing that used to consume most of my waking life, my corporate job, doesn’t exist for me any longer. I know it’s all for the best, but now I need to move forward. I can jump into another traditional job, start a new business that can make money, or throw myself into the tons of hobbies that interest me. Even figuring out what exactly to do from day to day has become a challenge because no one is telling me what to do. It’s not that I don’t do anything, it’s that it’s completely up to me to decide what to do. I haven’t been in this situation ever.
I was excited to read this book because I do know one thing: even if I find another traditional job, I want to live creatively. Big Magic taught me that living creatively doesn’t mean checking out of society and devoting oneself to the arts. In a way, I’ve already been living creatively and I didn’t even realize it. This blog, Tomato Envy, was born three years ago out of a need for me to express myself and create. This blog is actually then super-creative because I created it and it’s about all kinds of other things I create in my garden, the delicious creations that come out of my kitchen, and in the way I enjoy my home.
Big Magic reveals some liberating and thought-provoking theories about ideas and how they find their way into the world as creations. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about her real-life experiences that indicate that ideas are floating around out there and waiting for exactly the right person to help them be born. If an idea comes to you and you don’t act on it, the idea will eventually move on to find a more receptive surrogate. Later in the book, she sets us free from the notion that our ideas must be original, important, and helpful to other people.
Personally, I have always set a strange and restrictive standard on my own ideas and creativity. For instance, there is no shortage of blogs out there on gardening, cooking and sustainable living – in fact, there are so many that I often feel my own blog can’t possibly stand out in this crowd. Gilbert set me free of this thinking by telling me that while my subject matter isn’t new, none of it has been done or written about by me – me, with my personal perspective and my unique voice.
The other way this book has changed my perspective is that it has given me the permission – I know, it’s weird that I need this – to try for the sake of trying. Oftentimes, I am too caught up in the outcome and I only want to try something or put something into the world that I am confident I will be good at. I don’t want other people judging me harshly and I especially cannot face the harshest judge of all: myself. I am not saying that this part of me will change at once, but I am sure that if I focus on creating in a space that is interesting to me, I will put more importance on the process itself.
Big Magic is a quick and easy read with chapters that are usually just two pages long. Those pages are packed with words that will heal you, inspire you, and help you redefine what creative living means. Don’t wait! Now is the time to relearn that musical instrument you played in high school, take a dance class after work, or finally plant that garden you dream about as you look through your back issues of Fine Gardening magazines. It doesn’t matter if you suck, it just matters that you create.