A Creative Life

A note from Lowi & G: Today, we are trying something new. We are offering you the blog in written form as always but also a link to an audio recording (above) if you’d like to have us read it to you!

I have been rereading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Big Magic, as of late. In fact, Lowi and I read it together the first time around. You may not be surprised to hear that when I told her I was rereading it, I found out she was too.

What makes this serendipitous rereading significant is how much we have changed since we read it the first time. I wish I still had my original copy to see what I underlined last time compared to what speaks to me this time.

As we shift, and grow, and evolve, naturally, how words, sentences, and concepts land with us do as well. I find that style of tracking fascinating. Going back to old books and seeing what I highlighted, what notes I made, what connections were linked as a result of this learning provides a map of sorts, only in reverse. It shows me how far I have come or how many times I have circled this lesson to finally integrate it.

What stands out for me most this time around is how slowly I am reading it. I am not a slow reader by nature, but I find myself reading a sentence and then pausing. The idea of being a creative person and claiming that idea as an attribute carries with it more depth and meaning than it did before. In fact, upon first reading this book, I likely chafed under the weight of the idea that I was creative.

I have come too far in this life to do that anymore. As Pema Chodron says, “There is no time to lose.” I no longer value the dismissal of my talents, however deep or shallow they may be, in the service of some false modesty or commitment to self-deprecation. I have relinquished the notion that devaluing myself makes me more likable in the eyes of others, or that should be something I strive toward. 

I think it’s, in part, because I am recognizing that insight is only the first step. I can read something, have an a-ha moment, and nothing changes if I don’t practice; if I don’t implement. Having a “bias to action,” a phrase known in the Design Thinking mindset, means leaning toward action when in doubt. It’s not moving just for the sake of moving, but it’s moving even when you’re scared, even when the steps are small.

I think all of this is at play for me. It’s about contending with and not denying your fear every single day. Because if you are going to live a creative life, it will come with fear, it will come with some level of exposure, it will come with risk (real or imagined), on a daily basis.

For me, every time I walk outside to write something on my driveway in chalk, I am “risking” criticism. I am potentially facing a reaction from someone else. That reaction could be as small as someone laughing behind my back to who knows what I could make up in my mind. I can laugh at the silliness of this risk while I write this to you and yet we all know how paralyzing and debilitating our fear, even if it’s only imagined, can be. 

You know that voice in your head that asks the existential questions over and over and over again: Who do you think you are? What makes you think you have something to offer?

I could, you could, shrink and make ourselves small in response to this retribution. And we all have. I have. Yet, there comes a point in life where you are reminded by Pema, we don’t have any time to lose. And that bangs up against Mary Oliver’s famous poetic question: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

With that, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s words this time around more as a user’s manual, a how-to, and less like entertainment because the life you save, the life you live, is your own. 

Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G

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