A mantra is born
I wrote a while back about a book I read in which the author talked about, among other things, the process of writing books and how her friend who wanted a nice writing area to work in would never write a book. It bothered me that she used the word control in this discussion because that had not been my experience with writing or with life quite frankly.
It bothered me, and now I know why.
Now I’m reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert - yes, the Eat Pray Love Elizabeth Gilbert so you know she has her own pretty authoritative thoughts on this topic - and I find it all coming together. I find myself reading exactly my experience in fact. Which is just the coolest thing.
Gilbert never uses the word control as she writes about creative living. I think from reading her book, she would find that idea pretty preposterous anyway. Instead, she describes a process around creativity that is decidedly out of our control.
She writes about ideas that have their own minds and visit and leave authors of their own accord. She writes about how you have to be ready and waiting to receive one of these ideas for it to inspire you. She writes about inspiration as a magical and unknowable force that we humans need to work with and honor - to seduce even - but certainly never control.
I’m not sure she ever uses this word either, but it is absolutely what she’s describing: dedication.
It’s dedication you have to have to be a creative. You have to be there often enough to hear the ideas that inspiration is going to send you. You have to be open and to do this you have to dedicate time to it whether that be in the doing or simply in the listening for the right idea.
For me to be open for example, I don’t put in headphones when I hike and I don’t turn on the radio when I drive. I use those times to pay attention to my thoughts; to actually focus in on the constant thrum that is going on in the background inside of all of us. It’s when I’ve come up with some great ideas or when I’ve been able to just work out a really difficult problem.
I’ve thought many times that it’s like magic. When I’m struggling with something in my writing or my work or something else, I often come up with the wording or the solution or whatever, almost the moment I’m off to the trailhead - not even walking yet, just driving there!
This is another important reminder for us to trust our own experience.
I’ve written before too, how we can allow the opinions and experiences of others to make us question our own reality. Or if not question, at least invalidate. You know what I mean. It’s that voice that says she’s written a book and you haven’t so you need to sit down and keep your thoughts on the subject to yourself because no one wants to hear them. (Ouch, by the way.)
It took confidence in what I was learning about my own process of writing to realize I disagree with someone else’s and it took courage for me to tell you guys so. Confidence and courage, man; these two things seem to absolutely be the keys to living any kind of wondrous life.
This is also a reminder that everyone’s voice matters.
Remember? I also wrote about this.
I wrote about how everyone hears a message differently depending on who they’re hearing it from or depending on where they are at the moment so just because someone has already said what you wanted to say you need to say it anyway. But even more importantly than that - and Gilbert stresses this as well - is that you have to do it for you.
You have to say what you need to say simply because you need to say it and not because you think it’s going to change the world or because you want to be on the New York Times Bestseller List. I mean sure, that may be the outcome and there’s nothing wrong with that, but that shouldn’t be the point.
Sing like no one’s listening.
Dance like no one’s watching.
Write like no one’s reading.
This is my new mantra.
And all it is is to say just do something creative - whatever that means to you - and enjoy the doing of the thing and the outcome all for yourself. If someone else appreciates it, gets something out of it, be grateful, that’s a bonus. On the flip side, if someone hates it, totally disagrees with it from every fiber of their being, that’s their choice, you don’t change a thing.
Or if not one person notices, that’s ok too. You’re still spending your time in what matters to you, which is what our best lives are all about.