Today we’re discussing part three of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-selling book Big Magic, Permission
Permission was an interesting chapter. I wish I could start this post out on a more eloquent note, but sometimes you must state the obvious in order to move forward. So…it was interesting. Partly because the ideas presented within are so obvious. When you boil it all down, creativity should be something we all feel the freedom to express, except we as a society can’t seem to help placing barriers around it. And oh, those barriers are appealing! What is it about rules and regulations that makes them so irresistible? We tell ourselves that if we’re not talented at something we might as well stop. If we’re not destined for fame or fortune, then why even try? That if you want to be an artist, art school is the answer (as someone who actually went to art school — a for-real, draw-till-your-fingers-bleed art school — I believe that sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. As with most things, the real answer is more complicated than I believe even Gilbert can dissect).
We all have that thing we wish we could do, that thing we dream of doing, that we just won’t give ourselves permission to pursue. Last week, mere hours after completing my write-up on chapter 2, Enchantment, I came across a rather extraordinary story from AARP. I know, I’m just as surprised at the source as you are. It’s the story of Chris Donovan, a man well into his fifties who decided that, after spending 25 years as a telephone repairman, he was finally going to pursue his passion. His passion for designing women’s footwear. And we’re not talking clogs or sneakers. We’re talking extraordinary, sculptural works of art (you can watch the video here, and I highly recommend you do). After viewing his story, I couldn’t help but imagine what would have happened had this man never found the Courage to push past fear and welcome an idea, allowed himself to be utterly Enchanted with his own creativity, and given himself Permission to create, regardless of outcome. Probably, nothing would have happened — to you or I at least, we would be completely unaffected save for having one less inspiring YouTube video to watch. But for this man, the implications of having lived a life never exploring this idea could have been devastating.
We owe it to ourselves to grant permission to create. To get over the fact that our work may not ever see the inside of a museum, or even be hung on a gallery wall. Our songs may never be heard by anyone but a friend, but I think that’s OK.
+ What will you give yourself permission to create this week? Please share in the comments and check back next week for part four of Big Magic.
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