I didn’t get to know Elizabeth Gilbert from her book “Eat, Pray, Love”; instead, I got to know her through this amazing book called “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear”, and I love her. She is such an awesome writer and a great inspiration! Every single word she wrote made sense to me and seemed like I always had them in mind, but didn’t know how to say them. It emotionally touched me and took me to new lands. “Big Magic” depicts a fascinating world where creativity and fear travel together as friends. It teaches so much fun and many valuable lessons. I would recommend “Big Magic” to all of you, my friends who are young, and trying to find your way in life just like me at this moment. In this post, I want to share some of my favorite quotes from the book; I hope they’re helpful and enjoyable.
I was inspired a lot by the story of her father telling her that the best place to pitch a tent will always be the spot marked “NO CAMPING”. Sometimes interesting adventures open up to people when they are willing to break the rules. This also reminds me a quote from one movie I watched a while ago which said, “It’s never wrong to do the right things.” I grew up in a context where the boundaries of social norms, of the good and bad definitions is huge. They stopped me several times from doing what I love, or being who I truly am… It was fake, boring, and awkward! This quote from “Big Magic” helped me to affirm that I’m the one who can define what is right and wrong.
I remember when I had presentations in college, I always made my PowerPoint slides look pretty… like they must look perfect. Some of my friends just laughed and told me that I didn’t have to spend a lot of time on decorating PowerPoint slides… I knew I didn’t have to, but I wanted to because I liked doing it, and it always brought me joy. To me, I didn’t do presentations just for my professors and good grades. I wanted my audience to feel interested and enjoy when they listened to me, because that would make me happy.
I like this quote perhaps because I read it at just the right moment in my life. I just finished college two months ago (thank God), and I have some plans in mind for the future but I’m a little bit worried when people these days, especially teachers in school, say things like “You gotta find new ideas” or “You have to create a business with a totally new idea that has never existed before in order to succeed.” (Oh Please!!) This kind of talk never helps, it just makes you feel bad about yourself. It is true that a lot of things have already been done, but you have not done them yet. So if you’re planning to start a project, don’t let those thoughts stop you.
I’m tired of hearing those people who say “I created this to make the world a better place” or “I do this because I want to help people”... I wonder, do they really mean it? Of course there are people that want to help others, but they do it with love; in other words, they enjoy doing it. Elizabeth Gilbert didn’t write “Eat, Pray, Love” to help people, or Michelle Phan didn’t do makeup videos to help anyone; they did it because they loved doing it, and because of that, it ended up inspiring a lot of people and helped them to find way in their life. In an interview about this book “Big Magic”, Elizabeth mentioned a quote that sticks in my mind immediately: “All love eventually becomes help.” My point is, do whatever bring you joy! You cannot make anybody happy when you are suffering. Imagine if you put a heavy object on your shoulders. Would you go far with it?
I found Elizabeth’s discussion about passion and curiosity very lovely. How many of us know exactly what we are passionate about? And how many times have you heard people, especially educated ones, say “Just follow your passion” or “You have to know your passion” (Really?)… Please, don’t make me feel bad about myself. I know that I love fashion, but my passion is always here and there. Sometimes it travels around and I don’t even know where it goes, but I always have my curiosity! Let me tell you this: I like dancing so I take hip-hop classes; I like photography so I got a camera; I want to learn painting so I take painting classes; I love sharing my outfits so I created a fashion blog; I love traveling so I went on a road trip across the country. Aren’t they all about curiosity? I think it is! In the book, Elizabeth Gilbert said that maybe along the way of following your curiosity, you will find your passion. And what if you don’t? Well, you should read “Big Magic” (page 239), as she answered it very nicely.
Have you ever read or been told something like “Be fearless” or “Don’t be afraid, take that risk” (Man… it’s so boring). I agree with Elizabeth that for some moments, my fear has saved me: I didn’t party late and went home alone on that street, I didn’t want to stay overnight with that person, or I didn’t want to try that drug, all because I was scared. My fear is actually a very close friend. I was excited to read Elizabeth’s road trip story with the character of her Fear. She was about to take a road trip with her Creativity when she welcomed Fear to join. Fear wasn’t allowed to drive, or make decisions of where to go, or even touch the radio; but Fear can sit on the back and scream whenever they are at the edge. Isn’t it so lovely to see your fear as a companion? Fear is a part of human existence and you cannot deny it. Just don’t let it control you.
I said “Thank God” when I mentioned above that I just graduated from university. Well, I went to college, took a major, tried to get good grades as everybody did, then graduated with a good degree. But what is it for? For a good job in future? But what kind of jobs? And am I gonna like it?... I didn’t really ask myself these questions before I got to college. I don’t know how long I’ve had the idea that having a good degree from college = having a good career in the future. This might be right for some people, which is great for them. But what I see from my own experience and the experiences of people around me is different. It is more like an unfair trade where the school gets your money, and you get… debt.
I totally agree with Elizabeth that when you work hard on what you like every day with discipline and love, you’re already a creator. You don’t need to pay anybody to affirm that for you. Here is my advice: if you’re in college right now, you don’t know what you like, and confused about the future, forget about your current major and degree (because you don’t have to have them… I mean it). Give yourself some time to just take classes that you’re really interested in until you find something that fits you the most. It could be science, painting, dance, design, photography, or anything that your heart and mind lead you to, despite some people sarcastically telling you about how those are so useful. Treat school as a tool to find out what you’re good at, and take the idea of the degree out of your mind.
Good luck with everything!
(Pictures of the book and author are from Internet)