In a good book the best is between the lines. –Swedish Proverb
Do you ever hear so much about a book before you read it that you’re certain it won’t live up to the hype?
That’s how I felt about Big Magic.
It seemed like everyone was talking about it. Clients raved to me about this book. It was recommended by several of my role models. I overheard a group of women at the cafe enthusiastically agreeing it had changed their lives—all of them.
Big Magic was everywhere. And somehow the more I heard, the more I doubted it would live up to expectations.
But I have to say: I was hooked by page 9. Why that particular page?
Because that’s where we learn about Susan. Listless, restless, 40-year-old feeling-drab-and-heavy Susan. Who does a little big birthday soul searching, trying to figure out the last time she felt light and joyous and creative.
Turns out it was decades ago.
I was hooked at this point because Susan’s story has all the earmarks of reinvention. Of pausing to take a look around, not liking what you see—and then pivoting. Making a change, taking a turn. Putting yourself on a new path so you can reconnect with feeling alive again.
Don’t let the full book title—Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear—fool you. Or exclude you. Author Elizabeth Gilbert says:
When I talk about “creative living” here, please understand I am not necessarily talking about pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts…. No, when I refer to “creative living,” I am speaking more broadly. I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.
Even if you’re hooked at the point of Susan’s story, what will firmly reel you in is the many ways you might be afraid to live a more creative life that Gilbert shares a few pages later. It’s one of those cringe-inducing lists where you can’t deny you see yourself—again and again.
- You’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously.
- You’re afraid somebody else already did it better.
- You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of discipline.
- You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of training or degree.
- You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of work space, or financial freedom, or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration.
- You’re afraid you’re too old to start.
See what I mean?
And that is just the beginning of the list. Even so, I’ll bet you recognized yourself in at least one of those fears.
If so, do yourself a favor and pick up Big Magic. Who knows what creative living it might spark in you!
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