Someone sent me a voice message today in which a woman was advising women in their group to prepare for death because it will surely come.
She said we should prepare our homes otherwise when we are gone our families will be ashamed because of the clutter and the mess.
She said to throw out all torn underwear, clothes and blankets. To buy nice things so those we leave behind have something to share as is customary in our culture.
She said to not be lazy and work hard so we have money to buy nice furniture and especially kitchen ware. You know things like canisters, matching cutlery, proper pots, door mats.
I like to think people mean well but the voice note depressed me. It was a long message passionately spoken but focused on the wrong thing entirely – how not to embarrass people after you die. If we are to prepare for death at all it should start with a conversation about how to live well, how to live to the fullest and suck the bone marrow out of life.
So here is a short message about how to live.
Life is short. Dream big, make goals, make it happen. Make money, it buys a lot of things worth having. Live well. Be happy were you are, do it now, don’t wait until life is perfect. Be kind to people, give yourself grace. Eat the candy. Buy the dress. Take the trip. Do it all while you can. None of us knows how long we are given.
End of story. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
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.
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
Tea takes me back to my mother’s kitchen. It holds memories of family times past but also holds a powerful lesson that I want to share.
Growing up tea was a thing and anytime was, literally, tea time. Most of my memories of family back then involve a steaming hot cup.
My mother loved hers sweet with lots of milk. When I teased her for being too generous with the sugar she would answer with a laugh “Ndezvatakainga kutaundi” ie. “This is what I came to the city for”.
You see she wasn’t a city girl but migrated for work after finishing school. She loved to talk about how her motivation for making it through school was that she wanted to move to the city and live the good life. Her version of the good life included, you guessed right – sweet tea, bread with lots of margarine, lots of meat especially drumsticks and thighs because in the village those were reserved for men.
For me growing up with these things within easy reach it didn’t make sense that they mattered enough to drive her to chase educational and career goals. But to her, these things were potent inspiration to power her through late nights studies, job searches etc.
Every time I sit down with a cup of tea gazing outside the window I think of my mother and am reminded that we all have the power to create the life that we want. The idea is to pick a mark and not stop until we get there. And your inspiration for chasing those dreams doesn’t have to make sense to anyone but you.
That right there is the powerful lesson we find in a cup of tea!