TC 279: Cafe Book Club – Big Magic: Trust
This week Robin Masiewicz and her guests Amy Frost and Dr. Nancy Kymn discuss Trust, part 5 of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Key concepts from this section:
The creative individual may love their craft, whether it is art, writing, dance, or any other occupation, but there is actually a reciprocal relationship, that is your craft “loves you back”. It came to you, didn’t it? It asked for your attention and devotion. Why wouldn’t it love you?
Approach your work from a place of “stubborn gladness”. Inspiration is always trying to work with you, so you need to trust it and work too.
Producing legitimate meaningful work doesn’t require suffering. Adopting the “Trickster” mind-set versus the “Martyr” allows you to approach things in a more playful way, but can still result in high quality, meaningful art.
It’s okay to take pleasure in your work; there is no need to feel guilty because you’re creative process isn’t causing you anguish.
You can “choose your delusion”. “Because we all live in delusion, no matter what our beliefs. So you might as well choose your delusion, right? I mean — it’s your life, isn’t it? I choose trust. Works for me.”
Does it love you?
This section opens with a story about Elizabeth’s friend Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, a botanist and author that teaches environmental biology at SUNY College of Environmental Forestry in Syracuse, New York. Robin asks her students these two questions. The first question is: “Do you love nature?” As you might expect every hand in the room goes up. The second question is: “Do you believe that nature loves you in return?” Every hand in the room goes down.
The problem is that her students believe that the living earth is indifferent to them. They have no sense of conversation, no relationship. Without a sense of relationship they are missing something incredibly important: They are missing out on their potential to become cocreaters of life. As Dr. Robin puts it, “The exchange of love between earth and people calls forth the creative gifts of both. The earth is not indifferent to us, but rather calling for our gifts in return for hers–the reciprocal nature of life and creativity.”
In the video below Dr. Robin Kimmerer talks about nature and reciprocity at TEDx Sitka.
Nature provides the seed; man provides the garden; each is grateful for the other’s help.
Trust the Trickster
Elizabeth tells a story about her friend author Brene Brown, Ph.D. Brene comes from a academic background, where the idea of suffering for years to produce work that only four people will ever read is the expectation. But Brene tuned into the possibility of writing from a place of trickster energy, and she had a breakthrough. As Brene says in this section “I’m done with all that (suffering). Never again will I write about the subject of human connection while suffering in isolation.”
Rising Strong and other books by Dr. Brene Brown are available from Amazon. We encourage you to check them out.
In this section Elizabeth tells a story of her first published article for Esquire magazine where she was required to pare her story down by 30%. This exercise caused her to realize that her article, which she considered the best thing she had written to date, is not sacred. “What you produce is not necessarily always sacred, just because you think it’s sacred. What is sacred is the time that you spend working on the project, and what that time does to expand your imagination, and what that expanded imagination does to transform your life. The more lightly you can pass that time, the brighter your existence becomes.”
Questions to consider:
What do think about the concept of nature, or your work, loving you as much as you love it?
What role does trust play in living the creative life? Do you trust that inspiration is trying to work with you and make these ideas manifest?
What do you think of Elizabeth’s admonition to reject the “suffering artist” mentality and embrace the “trickster”? Could working playfully release your creativity, or does only suffering result in meaningful art?