In Praise of Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert has written a wonderful book titled Big Magic. She wants all of us to use our creative self and to do that without anguish. Not only don’t anguish, but she even wants us to have fun with our creative self. If we dance, sculpt, write, sing, make music, paint, draw, garden, cook, sew, dream, tell stories, create a loving home, take care of children or animals or those who might be vulnerable….whatever your creative gifts might be, and we all have marvellous if sometimes hidden creative gifts, Elizabeth Gilbert advocates playing, having fun, laughing, and not taking ourselves so seriously that we falter, give up, feel ashamed or walk away.

Whoa!! Do not walk away, she says. Stay with the dance she says. Don’t give up. And for sure, do not feel ashamed when your creation has not turned out as hoped. What a marvellous gift she has given to those of us who yearn to create while giving ourselves reason to hold back. The gift of permission to create as you/I wish and just do it. Because what would I be doing if I weren’t creating?

Very possibly moping, or maybe eating ice cream.  I think she may have suggested that as well, not the ice cream part, the moping part. If you want to paint or make a quilt or teach creative movement, and you don’t let yourself do that, how will you use your time instead? If not moping, very possibly feeling disgruntled or grouchy or maybe even bad-tempered. It is almost impossible to emerge yourself fully into the art of your heart and soul and not come away knowing you have been changed and challenged and are a better person for it. Even if it didn’t turn out the way you had hoped.

I think of Elizabeth Gilbert as perky….in a good way. I suspect she has known dreary moments if not hours or days or more, but she bounces back and holds her head high. And she encourages us to do the same. No shame in expressing oneself even if someone else doesn’t think it was all that great. No harm in writing something awful if it gave pleasure in the writing. Learn from the awful and better will happen eventually. Have fun while looking around to find what is better. Don’t stray from the path, one foot in front of the other, and create. Because that is what you do and you like yourself when you are doing it.

I like her attitude. And her honesty and wisdom and the permission she gives to not need to be great and remembered for centuries, but instead to follow your dream and have fun doing that. She speaks of not even needing to really know what your dream is. You could just have a tiny little glimpse or hint or suspicion and just follow that teeny little light to the next light and again until the light gets big enough to walk into it and embrace it and hug it close, because that tiny little light seems to be beckoning, calling, wanting attention.

All of this pleasure is to be done without fear. Or shame. Gilbert gives permission to create proudly and be satisfied with what it is at the moment. She leaves space for growth. She understands being let down or not accepted or criticized. But she says do it any way. And have fun doing it. It is the wonder, is the word she likes, the wonder of doing it and the pleasure that it gives the creator and may very well give one other person.

So! Create! It is good for your heart and soul. It is good for your mind. Create without fear or shame, hold your head high and enjoy yourself. It is the joy that you find as you create that counts. Nothing else matters at all.

Hugs and love, Nancy

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