Last night I was wide awake at 1:30 AM finishing Big Magic ( Riverhead, 2015), by Elizabeth Gilbert. I snuck in the last few pages while my family slept soundly around me. I could not put it down! Big Magic was just that: magical. Not that I expected much less from the author, but this is pure literary gold. The subtitle is “Creative Living Beyond Fear”, and the entire book discusses what it means to live a creative life as well as offering helpful insight into doing it well. When I say “well”, I do not mean that Ms. Gilbert advises her readers to quit their jobs and discover the magic of living a creative life. Rather, she discusses the opposite: keeping your day job in order to pursue your curiosity within the creative realm.
What I LOVE about this self help book is that she discusses creativity in such a down to earth and real way. Gilbert includes different possibilities of what it means to live creatively. Not all of us are poets. As she explains, you could live a creative life by being a high school custodian. If you love your job and greet the students with love and jokes every morning, that is certainly living the life of a creative person. On the other hand, if you work at a 9-5 administrative job and have a love affair with writing your novel every morning before your commute, this is also living a creative life. The glory of it all is that you get to choose.
In my favorite chapter, Gilbert mentions that you need to know what kind of “shit sandwich” you want to eat every day. She says that we all have things we need to do that we don’t enjoy (laundry, taking out the trash, etc.), and in our creative pursuits we need to decide if the “shit sandwich” we eat every day is worth it. For myself personally, I am not a huge fan of administrative work. I would much prefer to teach yoga classes all day, connect with my teacher trainees, give crystal and reiki healings and meditate on love and life. In order for my business to run smoothly, however, I need to take care of our finances and administrative work. Because here’s the thing… I could never imagine not teaching yoga and writing for my living. As such, the “shit sandwich” I choose to eat is my administrative work. I willingly oblige if that means I get one more day to teach, write and share love.
Gilbert’s point here is that we all need to do something we don’t love even when we are living the life we love. What is it that you are willing to do if it means you get to continue living creatively? As a nurse, are you willing to change bed pans? As a janitor, are you willing to take out the trash? As a fireman, are you prepared to do overnights away from your family? As a creator, are you willing to get up an hour earlier to create before work? Or, live on a little less in order to do any of these as your career? These sacrifices don’t seem like sacrifices if you’re doing what you love.
My book review here is simple: READ BIG MAGIC. It was that good. I loved every minute of it. There was inspiration, practical magic, big magic, insightson where Gilbert thinks inspiration originates, musings on dedication to your craft and so much more. Big Magic lifted me up and reminded me to continue writing no matter what. Maybe someday I’ll write my book or be published in print, but that advancement won’t happen unless I put forth the dedication and love it takes to get there by grabbing ahold of all the opportunities that come my way.
Review written by Jenny Ravikumar. Jenny is a 500 hr RYT who owns Barefoot Yoga Shala in the northshore of Massachusetts. She’s a new mom who teaches yoga, keeps her family healthy, runs her own yoga teacher training and writes a blog at jennyravikumar.com. She lives, loves & breathes all things yoga.