Every once in a while, a book captures our soul and we just cannot get enough out of it. Elizabeth Gilbert, the “Eat, Pray, Love” lady, does that for me. She wrote another book, called “Big Magic”. It’s one of those books that I can read or listen to multiple times (Is a third time too many?) I have a hardback, that’s underlined from chapter one to the end. I have an audio copy on my phone. It speaks to living a creative life. Creative is a term she uses loosely. Creative doesn’t always have to mean the arts, as in painting, acting, sculpting or writing. But it is that interest bank in our heads – and hearts- that gives us jazz. Two things keep jumping into my lap each time I open this book. First and foremost is that freaking fear factor, we have that keeps us from living a creative life. It holds us hostage, keeps us small and creates waves of disappointment in us when we succumb to it. The other part that speaks to me is the part that good ideas come our way like little bubbles full of thoughts and if they’re not meant to be snagged by us, then we make a decision – either instantly or after laboring over it – to adopt it or let it go. If we let an idea or opportunity go, then the bubble pops for us, but may float over to someone else whom the universe thought was just as capable. This happens to authors and speakers and designers of other mediums all the time. “Well, crap, look at that, will you? I had that same idea and they took it and ran with it and it’s a home run. Dammit.” There’s no way that other person stole your idea, but the universe must move on if the idea is to find a nest in which to flourish. Sometimes you get to (have to?) witness the growth of that idea. It teases and torments you because you were going to write that book, blog or speech. And then you get really mad at yourself because you had fear for an instant that helped you make the decision to let the bubble float into and out of your midst.
Gilbert talks about fear as a regular passenger when we travel through life. I’m going to explain it as a guest at the table. You address fear like a person, because it’s a lot like that little voice over your one shoulder, saying, “Oooooh, I don’t know about this idea. It’s pretty daunting. I don’t think you can do it very well. You better pass on it.” Fear will always has a seat at the table, but when you let Fear order, Fear may throw her menu on the table and order for you. What we need to do, in order to keep Fear quiet and under control is to never even give her the menu. Also, Fear gets a shorter chair than everyone else. “Fear, you’re always going to have a seat at this table, I get that, but you will not have a tall chair and you can chat during the discussion, but you will NOT raise your voice and you may motion the waiter over to take our order, but you will NOT, I repeat, will NOT ever order for me again. I do not like what you choose. Your demanding that I eat this or that is not welcome. Just sit there and be quiet and keep your negative little hands in your lap. I don’t need you to order for me and many times I will ask you to simply leave the table. Go sit somewhere else, Fear. You have no voice here anymore.
And that is how I can live a more creative life. Are you allowing fear to order at your “table”? bw.