Sunday, March 20, 2016

On Big Magic...

Recently I read the book, Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I was referred to this book my friend Cassie, whose opinion on things literary I generally respect, and who has written many wonderful books of her own. So I decided to read Big Magic and found myself enjoying it thoroughly.

Not because it inspired me to go out and tackle the world based solely on the belief of my own creative genius, but because it inspired me to do just the opposite. Had I read this in my twenties, it might have served as the permission I needed to stop striving to tackle the world based solely on the belief of my own creative genius and just enjoy living authentically, fully, and creatively. To just enjoy the Big Magic of being creative.

But what does that look like?

Twenty years ago, I thought it looked like me dressing dramatically, being rail thin with stunningly artistic hair, standing in front of my equally stunning paintings at gallery openings in some big city where I would have a fancy apartment above some chic coffee shop or cafe. I'd travel frequently to exotic places and do all kinds of fascinating things.

(If you know me personally, insert manic laughter here...right here...)

Twenty years later, that's so not my life. Nowadays I'm prone to simple clothing. Black and white stripes are about as dramatic as my wardrobe gets. Even though I am mostly vegan I'm still not rail thin (dammit!) and when it comes to hair, my stylist knows, I'm both too cheap and too lazy to maintain any kind of stunningly artistic look beyond whipping it up into a scrunchie. (The scrunchie might be stunningly artistic, though...)

And while I do love to see a good art exhibit, I rarely make appearances at gallery openings because I don't like small talk with large crowds. And instead of the studio, these days I'm likely to be found in the kitchen, trying to master the secret to creating a perfect homemade pie crust...

A long way to go....painting is so much easier...
Fancy chic apartments in metropolitan cities? Not so much, but I love our small home, on the edge of the woods with just enough space and a patio where I can enjoy morning coffee and birdsong. And though I do enjoy traveling, I don't do it frequently because I so love being at home, making things, writing, reading, planting, cooking. I'm still striving for my dreams, they just aren't centered around the same things anymore. What I strive for now is simple, sustainable living; eating real food; buying less and reusing/recycling more; slowing down and enjoying life; more time, because requiring less material items means I can work less and live more. A place a little further away from the city, where I can have a huge garden, maybe a few gentle animals to greet me when I step outside on the deck with my morning coffee. A mountain view won't hurt. A job I can work from home so I rarely need to venture away...

What I love about Big Magic is that it encourages me to keep striving towards the creativity that brings me joy while reminding me I am not obligated by the laws of nature to make my living from it. That it is okay to enjoy being creative and living a creative life on my own terms, without forcing my creativity to provide my bread and butter, because let's face it, creativity manifests itself in many, many ways, and not all of those way are going to result in a marketable product. The very notion that it would, or would need to, is what led to the burn-out that upended my life a couple of years back and has redefined how I view creative living now. I like that an author so prolific as Elizabeth Gilbert gets that even the biggest of magic doesn't have to result in the biggest of payoffs to be worth doing. It's worth doing not because it will bring one fame and fortune, but because it will bring happiness to one in those moments, as well as love, experiences, and joy to life.

In other words, I'm not wasting my creative talents if I'm not creating solely to generate income. I am wasting my creative talents, however, if I am not creating a life I enjoy. Striving towards fame and fortune, always burning the midnight oil, creating work for a target market, endless small talk with huge crowds...these are things I didn't enjoy. I am sure that is many people's cup of tea, but my big magic takes place elsewhere, and I'm perfectly okay with that.

This week's creative endeavors for our household will involve vending at SpringFest and turning these lovely eggs, gifted to us by a friend who has hens, into delicate Easter desserts and what I am hoping will be some pretty epic Easter eggs.

Here's hoping you will have a blessed week full of Big Magic! And if you are so inclined, give the book a look. I found it at our local library, but you can find it here or at your local bookstore!

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