I was recently reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s book titled Big Magic. She has this way of drawing you into her conversation, like you are an old friend. Her more famous book Eat, Pray, Love did the same thing. Elizabeth takes your hand and invites you to journey with her. This book is no different as she escorts you on the expedition of finding your creativity and using it to interact with the world more fully. It is important to note that her use of the word creativity does not limit you to the arts, it is about inspiration to live a big, authentic life – and what that means to you is, and will always be, remarkably different from what it means to someone else.
Big Magic introduced to me a concept that I find absolutely fascinating, well actually I find it quite magical. You see, the author believes that the world is not only occupied by humans, animals, plants, viruses and bacteria (yeah, I am not sure why she felt she needed to add those last two!) but it is also inhabited by the energetic life form of Ideas. She goes on to say that although Ideas have no material body, they do have consciousness and they most certainly have a will. It is her belief (and now most certainly mine) that Ideas have a single purpose, and that is to be made manifest. And the ONLY way “an Idea can manifest itself is through collaboration with a human partner. Only through human efforts can Ideas be escorted out of the ether and into the realm of the actual.”
Just sit with that for a moment and imagine hundreds, no thousands, ok –billions! of Ideas continually flapping around the universe just searching for that perfect human to connect to.
Not sure of the image in your head but I have this image of thousands of little Golden Snitch’s like the one used in the game of Quidditch in the Harry Potter movies. Little Golden Snitch’s zinging around the universe at warp speed looking to make a connection. You may be wondering just how this little flying Idea knows what human to attempt connection with? This my friend is where the magic happens. Ideas look to align with an individuals unique genius.
I am captivated and have noted many times in my blog the awe I feel when I witness a human sharing their genius with the world. I would say it has only been over the last few years that I have been sensitive and attentive to noticing another’s genius. Admittedly, the first people that I consciously observed were those in the “arts”. The product of their genius is touchable and felt with most, if not all, of my senses, so these were easy to spot. Over time, I began seeing genius in other “artistic” areas. My children, now young men each have a unique genius that fascinates me. Or the cardiac surgeon whose genius resulted in my dear friend’s second chance. Modern medicine is full of examples! Or a really great teacher that makes a lasting imprint on the trajectory of a student’s life. Or people like Eleanor Anbinder, going against the grain. She co-founded the non-profit ArtBecause to fund, research and educate women about the CAUSES of breast cancer, where so many others focus on the cures. The list is endless and absolutely mesmerizing. I love the way that Elizabeth Gilbert described what I refer to as our individual genius. Her belief is that the universe buries jewels deep within us, that each and every one of us are walking repositories of buried treasure. Buried treasure. Genius. It all sparkles golden to me.
Unfortunately, we humans are absolute experts in keeping our genius buried. Sometimes we are put on paths (by ourselves or maybe by another’s strong urging) that we think might be right but after months, years and even decades we realize either this is no longer our genius or that it never was. Or perhaps we lead lives that have never even tapped into our jewels at all! Instead our treasures remain hidden, never searched for with the justification that the hand you were dealt was unlucky and you were meant to live a ho hum life on the hamster wheel. Whatever the scenario, the thing that keeps us from living our genius or finding our jewels is fear. Fear! Pure and simple. Fear that we are not good enough. Fear that others will not agree with our decision. Fear of failure. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being laughed at or judged. Fear of ________. You fill in the blank. Is this stuff resonating with you at all?
So this is where courage enters the picture. It is my observation that those who have had a traumatic life event, (a tribulation as I describe in my post Hello from the other side) and are on “the other side”- it is then they finally give themselves permission to live courageously. Tim McGraw describes it perfectly in his song called Live Like you are Dying. Why? Why? WHY!! do we wait until we get handed a death sentence to allow ourselves the gift of living immense, more authentic lives?
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
It is an absolute travesty that humans allow themselves to live small. We live small because given the choice between embarking on a new and challenging life and staying where life is familiar, comfortable, habitual; we choose the familiar, simply because this is what we know. And when we think of the unknown, fear is right at its heels and it is fear that will scare us right back to our living small, known, life. Wait! Don’t crawl back on the hamster wheel. Don’t be afraid to take chances, afraid of happiness because you are afraid to fail. You have to be willing to suffer and be faced with fear and difficulty so that you CAN experience happiness and bliss. You can’t have one without the other – it is not possible. The image below was shared with me at a Kripaulu workshop. People can’t deal with the low points so they avoid them, which also results in missing the high points. So people choose to live in the middle. And that line is referred to in medicine as flat lining. So welcome to the world of the walking dead.
It does not have to be that way!!! Instead choose to live with courage. Courage is the ability to do something that frightens you. It comes from a place of strength BECAUSE of your suffering, your pain and your grief. You cannot avoid fear. Fear is embedded into our humannesss – and for good reason. Without fear we would likely walk right into oncoming traffic or swim with sharks or try to pet bears. That fear reflex in the face of real danger is absolutely necessary. However, the fear that comes when embarking on something new, like living our genius, or unearthing our buried treasure – that fear enters you because you have entered into the realm of uncertain outcomes. This kind of fear you must acknowledge. Welcome that fear on your journey, let it sit beside you, but DO NOT let it lead you.
When you get courage to live big, you begin to allow yourself the time, the peace, the space necessary to be receptive to the Ideas that are unquestionably pinging you. You will begin to feel the Ideas wings flutter against your consciousness. When you are open and aware, when the Idea aligns with your genius you will hum with luminous delight. It is an odd feeling when an Idea comes to you and you are open to it. It excites you, you start to breath life into the Idea and the Idea starts to breath life into you. Here is the crucial point… Do you continue to let it excite you enough, do you have courage enough to keep it alive? Are you going to let your fears talk you out of dancing with this gift of an Idea? If you are courageous enough, the Idea, sensing your openness, sends waves throughout the universe to continue the inspiration. All of the sudden coincidences and people are put in your path. You begin to experience signs – all orchestrated by the Idea to keep your interest. You think about it nonstop and it will not leave you alone until you give it the attention it desires. And then it will whisper, “Hello my human. Do you want to work with me? You are the perfect genius to bring me to life.” You have options here. You can say no if it just isn’t the right time for you. In this case your Idea might wait for you and flutter again in a month, a year, or five years from now. Or this Idea will go in search of another human to connect with. When saying no to an Idea Elizabeth Gilbert suggests being gracious because you certainly don’t want it getting around in the universe you are difficult to work with. So something like “I’m honored by your connection with me but I’m not your human. Best wishes for connection.”
Of course the other option is to fully embrace the idea, submerse yourself in it. Explore, study, learn, become an expert and follow it through. This is what makes our world so interesting. These calls to our hearts bring us to life!
Apologies for such a long post. Let me summarize. First, you must let your mud settle (see my post Begin again for more on this topic) so that you are in a state of clarity, and openness for magic to slip through. Next, I join voices with Elizabeth Gilbert to ask you “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden in you?” And please, on this one please don’t wait for a life event to be the catalyst for this. It is not necessary. And finally, when that Idea flutters in your consciousness, know it was not a random act of kindness. The Idea searched for YOU, because your unique genius makes it possible to bring it to life!
Warning… if your mud is so kicked up the idea can’t get in, it will fly away, desperate for a human that is open to living a big, authentic life.
And finally (no really this is the end), I leave you with words from Robert F. Kennedy. “This world demands the qualities of youth; not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the life of ease.” Go. Live BIG. The world needs you.