Big Magic

One of the best things I did this August, maybe the only good thing really, was to read this book, Big Magic. I was looking for something to help me out of the funk I was in and this sure did it. If you are a creative looking for something to get you back into the zone, this is it!!!

First off, let me say don’t be put off by the size of the book. Big Magic is easy reading. Its structured in short, quirky, to the point chapters. You will find yourself thumping through the pages like your life depends on it and the conversational tone in which its written will have you feeling like you are sitting across the table from Elizabeth Gilbert herself exchanging wisdom over a cup of hot chocolate. Its that good!

And what is Big Magic you may ask. It is the divine relationship between creativity and you – the mystery of how inspiration comes to us humans and works with us to create.

Here’s the lessons I learnt about Big Magic.

  1. We all have it, yes even you:

As a creative it is easy when you are in a funk to think you have lost it, or maybe you didn’t have it in the first place – you know “that thing”. The world has us thinking there are a select few born with the gift of creativity and that you either have it or you don’t, right. But we are all have extraordinary little treasures within us and the universe is just waiting for us to put in the time it takes to create and bring them forth. Everyone has something.

2. It takes a special kind of bravery:

Its a vulnerable thing, to be a creative. To make something, anything and put it out there for the whole world to see. Be it a blog post like this one, a whole book, a photograph, a painting, whatever your creativity brings forth – allowing yourself to make it and then present it to the world takes bravery. Often we create in order for our product to be likes, praised, applauded, awarded, bought – and when that doesn’t happen it can be paralyzing for the creator. Do not let success in this sense be your guide. Create for the sake of creating. Create because its what you do. Create because it brings you joy. Let your creativity be its own reward. That way if people show up for you and love your work – great! And if they do not or hate it – also great!

3. Don’t sit around waiting for divine inspiration:

We have all heard tales of creatives who got some kind of divine inspiration for their greatest works. The musicians who dream the lyrics of their number 1 hits. The writers who just feel the words of their next bestseller flowing through their pen. Yes, that sometimes happens but not always – let it find you working at finding ideas and inspiration for your next piece of work. Keep it moving, whether ideas appear magically or not.

This last one hit me particularly hard because for years my writting had always come easy to me. Ideas and words flowed easily, inspiration was everywhere it seemed. I had always lived “in the zone” you may say. And then suddenly, I didn’t. So I wrote and shelved what must be a a hundred or more pieces and a whole manuscript too! I was waiting for the next inspired post before I blogged again, waiting for inspiration before publishing that book, before sharing my thoughts on social media even.

Big Magic doesn’t often come to the idle though because it cannot be sure you will answer the call to create – it loves the ones diligently working because it knows your engine is warm and you are ready to go if inspiration whispers in your ear.

If I was to summarize the biggest lesson in Big Magic is this, create whatever that’s in your heart to create, do it for the love of it, do not wait until its perfect, the process is its own reward.

NB: When I am not blogging here I share my thoughts and experiences on Facebook and Instagram

A little Ikigai

I finished reading this book the same day I bought it. I didn’t put it down the whole time, not once. It’s that good!I got my hands on it at a time in my life where I was craving a sense of purpose, a reason for being. The itch had been with me for a while but I wasn’t yet at a point where I could describe it enough to call it by name.Purpose had always seemed to me like I had to be a thing you wanted to do, a destination to be reached, a person to become. I am from a place where you are cultured to dream of being a doctor or nurse because it pays will and you have black tax you absolutely must achieve at all costs. If at all you dream it’s of building a house, filling out with furniture and buying a car because that’s what success looks like. You top it all of with a husband and children because that’s what legacy looks like.

The idea of finding your reason for being at the nexus of your strengths and what the world values is intriguing and especially hit home for me for reasons I won’t go into here. Let’s just say I finally found my sweet spot and am working backwards from there.

The idea of finding joy in the doing of what one must daily is not too foreign to me though. My culture, my lineage is full of men and women who have woken up daily to do what they must with genuine joy and to perfection. My grandmother birthed 9 children and seemed to take much joy from cooking. I remember her sweet tea, fried chicken and home made bread fondly. They were the tastiest, made as she hummed under her breath. I too hum and a mean chef though I hate the repetitiveness of feeding people and only grace the kitchen occasionally.

The concept of honing a skill until you become master and the masses appreciate what you do so much they would pay a premium I can also relate to. I started to plait hair at age 12. For fun my cousins and friends would do each others hair. I had a knack for recreating any style purely from seeing it once. I loved showing off and got very good at styling hair it earned me a lot of money throughout my teens and got my mother worried I would choose hairdressing over a professional office based career. If you do something often enough, anything at all, you can get very good at it. Only when it comes naturally to you do you become a master at it.

There are many lessons and nuggets of wisdom on the art of living in this book. I am convinced there is something in it that everyone can relate to and immediately practice.

As I put it down I felt like I had the answers to my quest for meaning and a sense of being.

May you find your ikagai and savour every moment.

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