A Yogi Book Review of Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert:
I have a certain kind of love affair with books. My pinterest board “book porn” spans not only interesting titles I hope to get my hands on someday, but also sprawling layouts of my dream home library and cute reading nooks I can create from large windowsills. It holds the keys to my heart and each time I pick up a book I am transported to the most beautiful locations. I get so lost in characters that I cry when they die or my heart begins to ache when theirs hurts or the book comes to a close on someone I’ve come to know and love deeply, albeit they are fictional.
Last night I was wide awake at 1:30am finishing Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. This was for many reasons, but most importantly I decided to name the book my “January book” and it being a few days into February, I decided I wanted to hammer away at the last twenty seven pages before I could settle back down for bed. I was “alone” with the whole house snoring and asleep as I ventured back into bed with Elizabeth, one of my favorite authors. This is how you know you’re in for it, when you treat reading like an affair (sneaking it into bed with you late at night).
Big Magic was just that: magical. Not that I expected much less from her, but this is pure literature gold.
The subtitle is “Creative Living Beyond Fear” and the entire book discusses what it means to live a creative life and gives helpful insight to doing so well. And when I say well, I do not mean that she tells her readers to quit their jobs and discover the magic of living a creative life. Rather she discusses the opposite: keeping your day job in order to pursue your curiosity.
What I love about this novel is that she discusses creativity is such a down to earth and real way. And she includes different possibilities of what it means to live creativity. Not all of us are poets of course and you could live a creative life by being a high school custodian. If you love your job and greet the students with love and jokes every morning, that is certainly living the life of a creative person. On the other hand, if you work at a 9-5 administrative job and have a love affair with writing your novel every morning before your commute, this is also living a creative life. The glory of it all is that you get to choose.
In my favorite chapter Gilbert mentions that you need to know what kind of “shit sandwich” you want to eat every day. She says that we all have things we need to do that we don’t enjoy (laundry, cleaning our home, taking out the trash) and that in our creative pursuits we need to decide if the “shit sandwich” we eat every day is worth it. For me personally, I’m not a huge fan of admin work (taxes, paperwork etc.) I would much prefer to teach classes all day and connect with my teacher trainees on becoming teachers. I would prefer to give crystal and reiki healings and to meditate on love and life. In order for my business to run smoothly, however, I need to take care of our finances and administrative work. Because here’s the thing: I couldn’t ever imagine NOT teaching yoga and writing for my living. As such, the sandwich I choose to eat is my admin work and I will do it gladly if that means I get one more day to teach and write and share love. Gilbert’s point here is that we all need to do something we don’t love; what is it that YOU are willing to do if it means you get to continue living creatively? As a nurse are you willing to change bed pans? As a janitor are you willing to take out the trash? As a fireman are you prepared to do overnights away from your family? As a writer/painter/sculptor are you willing to get up an hour earlier to create before work? Or live on a little less in order to do any of these as your career? These sacrifices don’t seem like sacrifices if you’re doing what you love.
My yogi book review here is simple: READ BIG MAGIC.
It was that good. I loved every stinking minute of it. There was inspiration, practical magic, big magic, insight on where Gilbert thinks inspiration comes from, words on dedication to your craft and so much more. It lifted me up and reminded me to continue writing no matter what. Maybe someday I’ll write my book or be published in Yoga Journal, but unless I work a little harder and actually open myself to these opportunities, that won’t happen. Maybe someday I’ll teach yoga internationally and connect with teacher trainees around the world as I homeschool our son… but again, that won’t happen unless I put forth the dedication and love it takes to get there by grabbing ahold of all opportunities that come my way.
Get out there yogis and begin to live a life of your dreams. Be creative. Let go of unhealthy fear. PLAY.
And read Big Magic.
Love you all lots