“If you’re alive, you’re a creative person,” writes Elizabeth Gilbert in her 2015 manual on creativity and fear, Big Magic. “Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome.” She says it’s nothing to be ashamed of — creative living is always possible — we need only embrace the magic that often comes after diving into the unknown. Also, we must practice.
There once was a director of a small, high-risk enterprise — a start-up dependent on the quality of its team — who one day telephoned each of his employees and invited them to choose a passion. He called the idea “Passion Days” and explained they’d be given paid days to pursue something outside their job description. The only rule was that they couldn’t change the passion for 12 months.
A week passed, and most were ready. “I’d like to learn to design code at the General Assembly,” said one of the creatives. “Tango,” said the bookkeeper. A guy responsible for data analytics said, “I love film. If you need me, I’ll be at the movies.” Just a few stragglers remained. “I can’t think of anything,” said a junior manager in client services. “No one’s asked me anything like this before.” “Don’t worry,” replied his boss. “I’ll help you.”
“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them,” writes Gilbert. To her, creativity is everyone’s birthright, and its expression is part of becoming a fully formed human. “A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life.”
A year later, the start-up had gelled into something agile and imaginative — open, flexible, growing — and a fun place to work. Business was booming, the team sparked with inventiveness and big ideas. “I’m driving to lunch but can’t wait to get back to work,” called the account manager. “I’m excited and invested in our projects.” “Wonderful,” answered her CEO. He was filling a shopping basket at the local art supply.
PS: “Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” (Elizabeth Gilbert)
Esoterica: In Big Magic, creativity is broken into six parts: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust and Divinity. Little mention is made of asking your passion to make money for you, nor are you required to “save the world with your creativity.” Instead, Gilbert beckons, “Be the weirdo who dares to enjoy.” “Living in this manner — continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you — is a fine art, in and of itself.”