Until recently, I have felt cranky, frustrated, irritated, overwhelmed, sad, terrified. Trapped by the screams of little boys and their poop, and dishes and housekeeping, politics, and life with all its opportunities for madness. Until recently I have been gradually moving towards crisis. Until recently, I have all but lost it on many days. Until recently, I have been working diligently to uncover what’s hidden with in me and it has been dark. No jewels, only dark, deep, treachery - nothing’s in there but darkness, and those jewels they say exist, don’t. That has been until recently.

Presently, I have seen something new. Something that rekindles the hope that such jewels, in fact, do exist. And if I keep digging, keep doing the work, they will be unearthed.

What has stopped me? What has stopped me from going further and instead turns me around to get caught in all the dirt and darkness? What has stopped me from cultivating and deploying my courage - a facet of myself I have always been proud of?

Fear. It’s definitely fear.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes

... you don’t need your fear in the realm of creative expression. Seriously, you don’t. Just because you don’t need your fear when it comes to creativity, of course, doesn’t mean you fear won’t show up. Trust me, your fear will always show up - especially when you’re trying to be inventive or innovative. Your fear will alway be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter in realms of uncertain outcome and fear hates uncertain outcome. Your fear - programmed by evolution to be hyper vigilant and insanely overprotective - will always assume that any uncertain outcome is destined to end in a bloody, horrible death. Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: he hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone “safe”.

This is all totally natural and human. It is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something that very much needs to be dealt with.

Until recently, I have felt shame around being afraid - thinking that it’s not normal, that I am somehow crazy and if I were “good” I wouldn’t be afraid and it would all be effortless. Therefore, I have been at war with my fear. The battles ended in rage induced blindness or big face-contorting tears - in either case, fear won, I lost, and a little bit of me died. Bits and pieces of my creativity taken as trophy so to be worn around Fears neck. The battles have been wearing me out for years and it's all to do with my unwillingness to accept it - as totally natural and human and absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

So, how am I to deal with my fear.

Elizabeth Gilbert shares how she learned to deal with her fear in the form of this speech ..

Dearest Fear:
Creativity and I are about to go on a roadtrip together. I understand you’ll be joining us, because you always do. I acknowledge that you believe you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job seriously. Apparently your job is to induce complete panic whenever I’m about to do anything interesting - and may I say, you are superb at your job. So by all means, keep doing your job, if you feel you must. But I will also be doing my job on this road trip, which is to work hard and stay focused. And Creativity will be doing its job, which is to remain stimulating and inspiring. There’s plenty of room in this vehicle for all of us, so make yourself at home, but understand this: Creativity and I are the only ones who will be making any decisions along the way. I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will ever exclude you from our activities, but still - your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allow to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. And dude, you are definitely not allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.

Presently, I am finding ways to accept fear, to invite fear along for the ride. Treating fear with respect and kindness and compassion. I am not chastising my fear, I am not ridiculing my fear, I’m not even asking fear to go away. Because, when I do, I kill a little bit of my creativity and my desire to live creatively.

Liz (of course I would call her Liz, because we are old friends) defines creative living as this …

… living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear ...

A creative life is an amplified life. It’s a bigger life, a happier life, an expanded life, and a hell of a lot more interesting life. Living in this manner - continually and stubbornly bringing forth the jewels that are hidden within you - is a fine art, in an of itself .. Creative living is where Big Magic will always abide …

She defines Big Magic like this, she says …

Surely something wonderful is sheltered inside you. I say this will all confidence, because I happened to believe we are all walking repositories of buried treasure. I believe this is one of the oldest and most generous tricks that universe plays on us human beings, not only 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.

So, what I am I to do with this rekindling of hope for jewels and hunting them? Here is my plan.

I plan to make space for fear - especially when it's fear that my children will not stop screaming and I will go completely insane. I will expect fear to show up when I have new opportunities and I’m not sure how they will go or really any time when I am unsure what the outcome will be - so in every situation. I will make space for fear to live and breathe alongside every inspiration and no longer battle it.  I will create space for fear when I’m feeling down, unsure if happiness will return. And when I'm fearful that I don't have enough time, I will make the most space. I plan to cultivate more creativity, because I know I am the most brave and most sane when I am creating. And, I will create not just in the quiet times I have to myself, but all day long - through parenting, being a wife and lover and friend, through housekeeping, cooking, and laundry and the mundane tasks of each day - I plan to approach it all with a sense of curiosity, looking everywhere for Inspiration. 

Fear, may you feel welcome and comfortable here and may you enjoy the show as Creativity and I get to work. xoxo, Kat


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
By Elizabeth Gilbert