Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic”

Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book “Big Magic” is pure Gilbert. It’s crammed with her energy, sense of humor, courage and curiosity, and her desire for everyone to share in the only life she wants to live – a creative life.

Creative life has a broad and inclusive definition for Gilbert. She believes “the universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.” “The courage to go on that hunt in the first place – that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.” She says: “I believe that this good kind of arrogance – this simple entitlement to exist and therefore express yourself – is the only weapon with which to combat the nasty dialogue that may automatically arise within your head whenever you get an artistic impulse.”

And then there’s the subtitle: “Creative Living Beyond Fear.” For someone now so successful, she knows fears – “fear you are a one-hit wonder,” “fear your best work is behind you.”

She lists two pages of fears (for why one might want to, but not attempt to, live a more creative life). Everything from “you’re afraid you have no talent” to “you’re afraid somebody already did it better” or “you’re afraid everybody already did it better.”

Engaging Gilbert stories fill “Big Magic” – the tales from her timid, fearful childhood with a resourceful, loving mother. (Ultimately Gilbert realized that fear is boring, and she wanted an interesting life). In spite of talk about fairy dust, Gilbert is a magical thinker who works really hard with what she calls “stubborn gladness.”

Gilbert says authenticity “has quiet resonance that never fails to stir me.” And she pleads with us to follow our curiosity, not the oft-counseled and uncertain “passion.”

She encourages you to get to it, if you haven’t yet. “It’s never too late.” And her book makes you want to do something – “…any motion whatsoever beats inertia, because inspiration will always be drawn to motion.” “The work doesn’t have to have a purpose and you don’t need an advanced degree.”

December is a great time to give a copy to your favorite person who isn’t hunting to uncover their buried jewels. And treat yourself to “Big Magic” – it’s full of treasures.

Pink Astronaut

10 thoughts on “Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Big Magic”

  1. Good words for the start of December. And the snowflakes coming down the screen make your watercolor of the astronaut even more magical. I totally agree with that statement about following your curiosity and not waiting for the “passion.” I see too many people who succumb to that inertia because they just never make the first move. One of my yoga teachers always says, “the first step is to show up on your mat,” which can often be the hardest part of a creative life.

    • Thanks Carol – good advice from you ! And that astronaut is such an imaginative moment. Lady Baby said she wanted to be a pink astronaut for Halloween, and her mom made it happen with a thrifted snowsuit and pink duct tape!

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