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Creative Living

--by Elizabeth Gilbert (May 31, 2016)


This, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?

Look, I don't know what's hidden within you. [...] You yourself may barely know, although I suspect you've caught glimpses. I don't know your capacities, your aspirations, your longings, your secret talents. But surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this with all confidence, because I happen to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks the universe plays on us human beings, both for its own amusement and for ours: The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.

The hunt to uncover those jewels—that's creative living. The courage to go on that hunt in the first place—that's what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.

The often surprising results of that hunt—that's what I call Big Magic.

When I talk about "creative living" here, please understand that I am not necessarily talking about pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts. [...] When I refer to "creative living," I am speaking more broadly. I'm talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.

One of the coolest examples of creative living that I've seen in recent years, for instance, came from my friend Susan, who took up figure skating when she was 40 years old. To be more precise, she actually already knew how to skate. She had competed in figure skating as a child, but she'd quit the sport during adolescence when it became clear she didn't have quite enough talent to be a champion.

For the next quarter of a century, Susan did not skate. Then she turned 40. She was restless. She felt drab and heavy. She asked herself when was the last time she'd felt truly light, joyous and -- yes -- creative in her own skin. To her shock, she realized that the last time she'd experienced such feelings had been as a teenager, back when she was still figure skating. She was appalled to discover that she had denied herself this life-affirming pursuit for so long, and she was curious to see if she still loved it.

So she followed her curiosity. She bought a pair of skates, found a rink, hired a coach. She ignored the voice within her that told her she was being self-indulgent and preposterous to do this crazy thing. She tamped down her feelings of extreme self-consciousness at being the only middle-aged woman on the ice, with all those tiny, feathery nine-year-old girls.

She just did it.

Three mornings a week, Susan awoke before dawn and went skating. And she skated and skated and skated. And yes, she loved it, even more than ever, perhaps, because now, as an adult, she finally had the perspective to appreciate the value of her own joy. Skating made her feel alive and ageless. She stopped feeling like she was nothing more than a consumer, nothing more than the sum of her daily obligations and duties. She was making something of herself, making something with herself.

It was a literal revolution, as she spun to life again on the ice.

Please note that my friend did not quit her job and move to Toronto to study 70 hours a week with an Olympic-level skating coach. And no, this story does not end with her winning any medals. In fact, this story does not end at all, because Susan is still figure skating -- simply because skating is still the best way for her to unfold a certain beauty and transcendence within her life. That's what I call creative living.

Excerpted from Elizebeth Gilbert's book "Big Magic."

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13 Previous Reflections:

 
On Sep 5, 2016 Dorothy Loutfy wrote:

 Inspiring!  I'm gonna write a poem and draw a picture today! 



On Aug 28, 2016 Amin wrote:

 Creative living in my opinion is having fun expressing yourself through your passion/art, in my case martial arts.
When I train and let my techniques and body go without worrying about external factors like the person in front of me, I really feel alive and that's when I shine the most. In that moment there's nothing in my mind, is just me enjoying myself while being relaxed doing my things. 



On Jun 1, 2016 Wanda wrote:

 To me, creative living means liberation.  Liberation from the labels of others.  Liberation from toxic and negative people.  It means living mindfully in the present to the good of yourself and others.  It is freedom from judging others.  It is having realistic expectations of yourself and others.  Creative living is being your authentic self with pride and self confidence.  Creative living is simple, joyous, and honest.



2 replies: J, Yvonne | Post Your Reply
On May 31, 2016 Jagdish P Dave wrote:

 "The light to shine our life is within us." My dad used to tell me these words of wisdom when I needed to hear them. He was a living example of knowing that truth. I was blessed to have such a wise teacher in my life. It took time for me to realize this truth. When I was 18 years old, I felt that call coming from within to remain open to have glimpses of the rich  treasures shining within me-the treasures of aspirations, aliveness, joyfulness and deep contentment. I felt deeply connected with that call when I will put my heart in doing that filled my heart with joy and aliveness and enthusiasm. I enjoyed learning  about what makes me feel centered, fulfilled and looking forward to continuing my journey. Sharing what thrills me with others and teaching such wonderful findings brings a tremendous of joy and energy to me. The beauty of this discovery is that it does not get stale. It has its ever abiding freshness. It is old and it is new. I am very grateful to have  See full.

 "The light to shine our life is within us." My dad used to tell me these words of wisdom when I needed to hear them. He was a living example of knowing that truth. I was blessed to have such a wise teacher in my life. It took time for me to realize this truth. When I was 18 years old, I felt that call coming from within to remain open to have glimpses of the rich  treasures shining within me-the treasures of aspirations, aliveness, joyfulness and deep contentment. I felt deeply connected with that call when I will put my heart in doing that filled my heart with joy and aliveness and enthusiasm. I enjoyed learning  about what makes me feel centered, fulfilled and looking forward to continuing my journey. Sharing what thrills me with others and teaching such wonderful findings brings a tremendous of joy and energy to me. The beauty of this discovery is that it does not get stale. It has its ever abiding freshness. It is old and it is new.

I am very grateful to have teachers in my life who have compassionately held my hand and shown me a way of living fully from within.

May we all be blessed  to discover our hidden treasures dwelling with us and sharing our light with others.

Namaste.

Jagdish P Dave

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On May 31, 2016 Susan B. wrote:

Elizabeth, I am inspired by your writing... I've had a desire to live around the world, to work and live in different communities.  My life has been quite mainstream as a single mom focused on children and family and providing.  My daughters are grown and on their way in their lives now... still I couldn't figure out how to make this live/work idea come to life for myself... then I lost my job and, to coin a business term, a forcing function occurred in the need to find a new job. I began to spread my net of out reach for a new job, as well as my networking and some educational efforts, to include opportunities abroad... I also allowed myself to dream more about the possibilities, what it might look like, how it might feel to actually live and work in another country... low and behold, I was recruited for a job in China - I accepted!  And my exciting journey to live and work in other communities has begun! 



On May 31, 2016 Ken Elkind wrote:

 We now can all find our creative lives by joining our global community drum circle.  You have to be, or have been a drummer to express joy in banging on a drum.  It's the instinct that allows us to join community drum events.  There is a reason we can all do this, and uniting all people musically on Earth,is our evolutionary duty.  ww.groovism.org is the gateway site to gathering of our globe.



On May 30, 2016 Anna wrote:

 To me creative living is feeling spiritually connected to nature, to the universe, and to all mankind. I have had moments of such joy in experiencing that connectedness, of knowing that I am in the right place at the right time and at peace with the universe. In those moments I have felt the warmth of joy and of just letting go. 
Unfortunately those moments do not come often enough. I feel so disconnected by the humdrum of each day's obligations, duties and chores. I long to be free, to feel the breeze of the wind and the warmth of a setting sun, to pull me out of this stagnating life.



On May 28, 2016 Kristin Pedemonti wrote:

Creative Living for me means living fully while sharing the gifts (treasures) we possess. I feel truly grateful that for whatever reason I have been able to do this most of my life. Perhaps it came from growing up in such an unhappy and stressful childhood, that in my 20s I decided to live on my own terms and that continued to blossom up to present day late 40's. Two items I never leave home without: Free Hugs sign and bubbles to share. I thought Id include my 5 minute TED for you all that speak to this magic of discovering joy in small moments: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Vp2WNkQB0o



On May 28, 2016 david doane wrote:

Creative living means spontaneity and improvisation.  It means having no plan, no predetermined goal or outcome, and instead being in the present, responsive to what is happening within and without moment by moment.  It means being out of my head, especially my left brain, and operating out of my guts and right brain.  It means mining the buried treasure within and bringing it to the surface.  It means being alive.  During the moments of living that way, I am light, joyous and creative, and it's wonderful.  What initially helped me tap into creative living, other than the first year or so of life when I suppose we're all that way, was being with someone who was living creatively.  That was inspiring.  The experience lit my pilot light, which has at times been neglected but never gone out, and I sometimes turn on and allow the pilot to become a full flame.  Doing it helps me do it more often. 



On May 28, 2016 david doane wrote:

Creative living means spontaneity and improvisation.  It means having no plan, no predetermined goal or outcome, and instead being in the present, responsive to what is happening within and without moment by moment.  It means being out of my head, especially my left brain, and operating out of my guts and right brain.  It means mining the buried treasure within and bringing it to the surface.  It means being alive.  During the moments of living that way, I am light, joyous and creative, and it's wonderful.  What initially helped me tap into creative living, other than the first year or so of life when I suppose we're all that way, was being with someone who was living creatively.  That was inspiring.  The experience lit my pilot light, which has at times been neglected but never gone out, and I sometimes turn on and allow the pilot to become a full flame.  Doing it helps me do it more often.