creativity · my lessons · non-fiction · review

BIG MAGIC – CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR- ELIZABETH GILBERT

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Big magic – Does this word sound too big? Yes, to me it did. I follow Liz Gilbert’s facebook page and make sure I read whatever she writes every morning.She has a habit of posting something on her facebook page every morning and whenever she doesn’t do, I would apparently await her post.When she was in Greece, I happened to know that, she is waiting for her big release of the book Big Magic on 22nd September 2015. Okay, I calculated the number of months using my fingers and found that during the release of the book, I would be at home with my mom in Chennai, India.Many fans of hers, had pre-ordered the book that would be delivered by amazon.com on that day and I felt really sad for not being in the US on the day of the launch.So, I browsed amazon.in and did not find any option to pre-order the book or the name of the book was not even found in the search results. Sadness flowed in through me like how the blood flows into the main stream.I searched for a kindle version and yes found that. But somehow was not so convinced about kindle version since I had read 2 full non-fiction texts on kindle and had landed up straining my eyes and fingers.

Apparently twice a day I call up my mom who is in India and she lives alone in that apartment with barely minimum help only for the daily chores. She is not a senior citizen but unfortunately, has an amputated leg.So to keep her occupied and make her feel my presence, I give her call. Thanks to my hubby for the unlimited international call straight talk connection he got it for me using which I can make unlimited calls to India from my mobile.The call gets disconnected every hour and I need to ring the number using some international code to reach her again. Whatever so far excellent to keep in touch with her.

I started sharing few posts of Liz Gilbert’s on my facebook page and few quotes of hers would be my cover page. To my dismay, I do not have any friend of mine that reads or anyone who knows Liz Gilbert as a writer.People around me are not interested in reading books.This is really a sad state, I actually need some company at least some distant friend with whom I can have a discussion about the books and exchange thoughts. An aunt of mine reads books but her genres are completely different and she belongs to a different age as old as my mom.Thanks to the social media I find some like- minded heads who keep commenting on the facebook page of the writers and there are replies and mutual likes. Poof this sucks, people are so engrossed with the other modes of entertainment like watching movies and merely hanging out with people and they have forgotten the face of the books.
Maybe this could be one of the reasons why I stopped reading during my school days and admired my classmate who used to read Nancy drew and Hard Boys. Though I never had good terms with her, I secretly admire her even to this date. Though I wasn’t so genuine or matured with her during my school days I like her till date and did not utter even a word to her on my secret liking. Of course nothing more than the pure admiration for her skill set and she as a good human being.Now, it is 6.30 AM in Texas and someone is secretly wishing her. So there will be someone in this world who wishes or secretly admires us and might not tell it out. That someone could be anyone – a friend, colleague, parent, family member, neighbor or anyone on social media.

September- the beginning of fall season in the United States, I was happily home with mom in India hugging her, shopping with her, cooking for her,cleaning the house, arranging my books in the shelf, fighting with her and consoling her.The most unforgettable month I ever had. I knew that my time in India will be only for a month so I made a good use of time by meeting my in-laws in Hyderabad, my aunts, uncles and cousins back in Chennai. I wanted to meet my friends, unfortunately, couldn’t meet any of them. I have a best friend in Hyderabad who is older than I by four years, used to report to me when I was working there.She was a kind of elder sister and a mentor to me. She woke up my spirit by motivating me and making me coming out of my gloominess what I had due to many personal reasons and made me into a different individual by making me see through myself. Love her. She is Swapnanjali. She brought out the actual me after 4 years of life. I had forgotten who I was, sulked and was in a bad shape.She had advised me and I got back to my energy levels like how I was before 2010 and after 2008.In turn, I helped her at work, I’m good at work and love to innovate.I was a quality manager for 3 years in Hyderabad. We had similar interests other than reading which she didn’t.

Poking is something that I’m fond of on facebook. I have two friends on facebook who keep poking me and I do it in return.Both of them are my ex-colleagues one from Cognizant and the other from hp.We did not work directly with each other, but we belonged to the neighboring teams.We poke each other on facebook multiple times a day and literally have had poke wars since 2010 and till date.I met one of them in an ice cream parlor who also lives in the same area as that of mine in Chennai.We happened to have a short talk for about 25 minutes and I was back home.

After catching up with all of them for the first 2 weeks, I was at home for the next 2 weeks with mom and giving her whole attention. Apart from arguing, of course, who do not resort to arguing with mom and later cuddling her.Mom loves TV and I hate that. So we constantly argue upon that box.I started talking to my mom about Big Magic and she asked me to order it on amazon.in so that I can pick it up the next time I’m home. I do not know when I will visit my mom the next time- it might not be for another 6 months. 180 days is too long for me to wait to read Big Magic. Hence, I told my mom that I would buy the book for the Thanksgiving Day in the US.But I secretly wanted the book immediately and my mom understood the desire.

One afternoon after lunch IST, I was reading the facebook page of LG and happened to find out that many of her fans have started reading the book and some of them have finished it already. The jealousy in me grew to such an extent that, I had a look at amazon and to my amazement the book does exist in India in hardcover along with 15% discount. Boom, I had ordered it and the delivery was promised to happen before 6th October whereas I would leave India on 4th October. Amazon usually takes 2-3 days for a book delivery, but there were 2 national holidays in between so the delay.
I had given a call to the customer care of amazon.in and requested for the delivery of the book ASAP and was ready to bear the additional shipping charges. The customer care representative did take a note of my request and to my surprise I received the book on a national holiday without me shelling out a single penny for the shipping charges. Thanks to amazon, I was in the cloud nine jumping with excitement and updating my celebration on the facebook page and good reviews on the amazon website. The review on the website could not be posted for some reason I’m not aware of.Mom was very happy to see my face with so much glow and she told me to order books so that she would keep it safely locked in the cupboard till I meet her the next time.

One thing I always wished was a book as a gift from friends, relatives or hubby. But it never happened. When I was a child, I received books as a gift from my mom and paternal uncles.I used to feel extremely happy then. I never have a habit of sharing my books with someone. I usually give them away to someone forever whenever I feel so and never on a sharing basis. Books are very personal to me like my life partner and I feel that the touch of those books should be only from my skin and not anyone else. Once I have a book I kind of get romantically inclined with them and have an affair with all of them. So sharing the books is not my cup of tea. I discussed this with mom and mom was like, if she had been working she would have bought all the books under the sun for me.Mom sweet mom, love her loads. So, in order not to get disappointed I had started gifting books to myself and every time, I get a parcel from amazon.in I open it with all the surprise to smell the pages of the new books and store it safely in the shelves.Few people have got me incorrect, they think that I have an obsession for gold jewelry but a “BIG NO”. I get flattered and fall in love with people who gifts me books and might forget who I’m.Yes, that’s my weakness. In the recent past, I received a gift from my team in Hyderabad which is a book. That team understood me to the core and the book was “And the mountains echoed”.I too understood them and it was my best team to have worked with so far as a quality manager.

For the year 2015, I had set up a reading challenge to myself in the goodreads. So when I came home, I started reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. This is one of the longest books and heavy reads from my shelves. I had admired Ayn Rand since not sure how long may be from the DNA. My dad is a super fan of Ayn Rand and I remember as a child that he used to read the fountainhead with a red cover page.Those memories were dated back to 1986-87.I have a good memory, maybe that is a gift from God to me.When the Big Magic knocked my door and arrived, I had switched from Atlas Shrugged and moved onto Big Magic. I had immediately changed the reading challenge of goodreads from Ayn Rand in the month of October to Big Magic.This swap happened coz of LG and thanks to her, I had almost reached 83% of the challenge and have been left with just 2 books this year and one, the Atlas Shrugged which is a big fish and the other is the New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.
I’m aware that I got to slog too much to finish them apart from the analytics projects that I have taken up as practice from my future job.

Amazon had packed the book very neatly and with multiple wraps. After cutting the wraps using a pair of scissors, I had found the book nicely waiting for me the touch, feel and read it. Yes, it is hard bound.For the first time in many years, I had bought a hard-bound book with merely Rs. 359 which is approximately around $5. I liked the color of the cover page which resembled the creativity and the painting blend of heart, soul and mind putting together. The name of the author and the subtitle of the book was embossed with a raised print.I had showed this to my mom and she was like WoW nice. You have chosen everything wrong in your life. I feel bad for you.I didn’t want to disappoint her and make her more worried, rather I changed the topic and was talking to her about Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Alexander and the other women who had achieved so much in life despite the burdened responsibilities and hurdles.She wished me wholeheartedly and prayed God for my success. I told her in turn that, she should take care of her health so that she is happy seeing me grow to at least 50% of what I wanted.I know it is a bit too much of asking. But, I really want her to feel contended thinking about my achievement and am running a rat race.

Why did I crave so much for the book and how did I become a fan of the author, Liz Gilbert. This all happened one day when I was frustrated with life in the US, and unwrapped the book ‘Eat, Pray,Love’ exactly after my 31st birthday. I could relate so much to myself with the character in the book.It was as if Liz had written the book for my own sake and only for me.I do not care if she doesn’t know of my existence, but I’m so attached to her writing.So that’s how I became a fan of hers.
When I got to know that Big Magic will be the next book of hers, I really thought the book was a fiction.I started imagining that, she had written about somebody in the book and had some gateway towards magic of a woman in the novel. But to my grace, I found that the book is non-fiction and it does not talk about a single woman as I assumed, rather talks about every single person in this world who had failed creating stuff due to various reasons and also the examples given by her provides strong evidence of the existence of Big Magic. This book seems to be more of a guide on the philosophy of how to lead a creative life as a vocation rather than a profession.

The book is divided into six parts- Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, Divinity.
Each part has several small chapters that provide us one example of every action towards creativity.
The book starts this way: ‘What is creativity? The relationship between human being and the mysteries of inspiration’. This sentence rang a bell to me that, the book is non-fiction and talks about the creativity.She had dedicated the book to someone called Rayya and I had assumed that Rayya was her niece but later understood it was her best friend.

The parts Courage and Enchantment was read by me at home in Chennai.These parts basically teach us that we should know to live along with the fear in us, coz nothing exists without fear.In order to go on a creative journey- one should live with fear, creativity and themselves alongside in the short span of life we live.I like the thought that was defined in the book that, ideas do exist in the universe like the good and bad stuff out there.The ideas try to reach us from the universe and we should be able to accept the idea with an open invitation and take it within us and start working towards it. If we do not reciprocate to the idea when it is trying to hit us, then that would go to someone else out there and wait for their receipt. It will move so on and so forth from each and every person. We should work towards attaining the success using the idea.However, the ideas need not be of artistic nature, it could be anything like skiing, learning to fly, etc.And success is something that need not be converted to monetary terms, it could be anything that gives us the happiness and that something we craved for.

The time for me to pack up things and bid goodbyes to my neighbors and some warm exchange of hugs between my mom and me. I had given a ring to my relatives whom I met and my poking friend too since I had met them all and everyone of them including my poking friend remembered that I was traveling back to the US. I did not expect this from my friend, though, the relatives knew I was leaving and it was expected that I would receive a call from them wishing a safe journey.Sometimes we have surprises too from people not known much to us.I’m happy that at least one friend acknowledged my travel and really meant to wish me. Kudos!!

Once the plane took off to Dubai, I was feeling very dizzy, it was 10PM in the night with super turbulent weather coz of the rains.The lady sitting next to me was actually scared and she moved her seat from 20C to 20B just to sit next to me so that she had someone to comfort her. I understood and smiled at her. I had consoled her that, once the plane crosses Chennai, there won’t be any turbulence since there are no rains after that. She was happy to hear and fell asleep. But later woke up to another turbulence while crossing the Arabian sea.I could not read on the plane coz I myself was feeling super sleepy and the lights were switched on in the aircraft for the entire flight.Finally, it was time for me to get off the aircraft from the Dubai terminal and get to the terminal of the aircraft that goes to the Dallas.After 30 minutes of travel from the aircraft through the bus and, the train I had reached the terminal and found a good place to sit and all the more had one-hour time for boarding. So I opened the Big Magic again and started reading the next part Permission.This part basically concentrates on the fact that one does not need permission to pursue the creative life and also one should not get broke when something does not happen rather persevere. LG talked about how many rejection letters she had received before her first publication. She also talks about not to spend lots of money on the creative education coz creativity is not something that could be taught in a class but something that comes from within and the universe.That style is very individualistic and should be authentic.I could just read 10 pages after which got carried away by people getting into the open boarding gates. So, I had followed them and saw a bunch of newspapers of the day. I had picked up the Financial Times and started reading it until the boarding announcement of my zone.

After alighting the plane and the take-off. I had completely lost sleep. But was extremely happy to notice that, there was no one occupying the 2 seats next to me.So, I had stretched my legs nicely, put on the headphones and tuned to the channels.After some dinner and a small nap, I had watched 2 movies and the half of the long journey of 16 hours surpassed. I was fully awake. My neighbor who was sitting in the front seat was a gross disturbance to me. He was asleep and dropped the pillows where I was seated. He had stretched the seat to such an extent that it hurt when the stow was opened by me for having food. Something clicked me, so I switched on the reading light, ordered some hot coffee and started reading Big Magic again. The light was falling on his eyes, but I did it desperately coz, he had stretched his seat beyond the limits as if he was a first-class passenger.I had read the rest of the part and then watched more movies and videos. I was amazed to watch one of the documentaries that spoke about creativity. Whatever Liz Gilbert said that the ideas exist in the universe, this guy who was one of the creators of a fashion brand also told the same thing. Wow!! What a balance.I believe in balance and I look forward writing stuff about balance.

After 2 days of tiring jet-lag, in Dallas and crossing the eight time zones. I wanted to jot down a plan for the next 3 months in terms of reading, practicing analytics and so on. In the meantime, I understood my laptop needs windows updates to run which is pending since April this year. There were 47 updates which nearly took two solid hours and I figured out that I should finish the book and hence read the next 130 pages.The parts Persistence, Trust, and Divinity were covered.In the part, Persistence it was said that Liz Gilbert had taken vows formally that she would want to become a writer. What she conveys to the readers is one should not try to become a successful writer.Being successful and earning money on that is what everyone dreams of and it is true. However, if one starts thinking that at the first shot they would become successful then it doesn’t work that way.
Persistence is what everyone needs.I really like some of the sentences she had quoted. She says fake it till you make it. The big magic, wouldn’t come to us always. We really need to fake it and seduce the big magic to come back to us. It was said that, if we need to seduce the big magic, we need to dress up for the occasion and invite it with the open arms.Yes, she might be right. But I disagree with this point. When I dress up, I get carried away with my looks and instead of seducing the big magic, I fall into the prey of selfies and self-love.I haven’t found that kind of love similar to something that has been portrayed in the Nicholas Sparks’ books and movies. The one person whom I can share my good and bad, happiness and sadness, laughter and cries and the one who loves me wholeheartedly no matter what and how I look and I’m willing to reciprocate in a similar manner.Lucky are the ones who have found such love or is it all illusionary and can be only found in the books or movies.Or is it like people conceal and act in front of others that they love each other so much and do some bitching. Or am I the only one who has not found love to at least 75% of the extent of what I thought would be. So should I be living on this earth with an unfounded love and soul mate with whom I cannot share any sadness or issues but only laughter, happiness and brightest of times, I’m simply married and the entire story of mine is  Just kidding, though!!.I might have got sentimental. If there are no readers then fine. If there are, I’m neither ugly nor beautiful but someone with a pretty heart and a pretty face.Is it like all the arranged marriages are like this? Or is it only mine? My mom says, there are good folks out there and my case is the one that falls under the cut-off line of not being loved wholesomely by the spouse.Okay, I go with whatever my mom says and I personally put a picture in my mind of someone who cares like the hero in the Nicholas Sparks’ books and movies and lead the life with joyful moments. I’m 31 and not sure how long I would pretend to be loved by the spouse wholesomely and love me as how I exist.

Being perfect doesn’t work with the big magic.Perfectionists are not creative.I agree with this point.I have instances of this in my own life. For example, when I was working, like I said, I had a team who gifted me a book on my farewell day.This team had extremely a lot of capability to innovate and create stuff at work in order to come up with new ways of measuring a product’s performance. They are a set of engineers with excellent communication skills and untapped potential. After interacting with them for a week or two, I had understood where they can reach and started dividing the team into small groups and assigned work for them. I had asked them to come up with stuff whatever they are interested in- like setting up metrics, designing performance dashboards, creating a knowledge base, conducting the risk analysis, mentorship, etc. I had given them a deadline of 2 weeks. This is the work that I had given them apart from  the routine quality checks they had to perform.With a clause that, these guys should not hamper their work for the sake of finishing these interesting projects. I knew for sure that, these folks will not be able to create a perfect product, but I had expected something out of the box. Yes, this worked and was successful. We had presented these projects to the clients program manager and her expectations exceeded on this. She had implemented these across the board and I had a lot of applications from the operations team to join my team.I was super excited since I was able to bring out the potential talent in a person that was hidden so far due to bureaucratic practices of the enterprise.That reality was in fact shattered by another program manager who had replaced the one that encouraged our practices. This person wanted everything perfect.She couldn’t understand that the work what we do is completed based on the user-generated content and users moods and activities keep changing at the macro level.Thereby the practices need to be changed as and when there is macro-level changes.She didn’t understand this and started branding our work as useless and no consistency.Our folks started losing focus since the work what we did was innovative and the manager could not understand that with her narrow-minded brain. Creativity with the team was lost. Oh My Gosh !!! We had to shut down the team and I had to move away to find some other work. Why did I tell this story? Coz this relates to the fact that perfectionists are not creators.

Next comes the part of Trust where LG talks about whether the creativity loves you in turn.We must do our best to gain the trust of the creativity. She concludes this part by talking about the difference between martyr and trickster, curiosity and passion.I love the way she says that “You don’t need to conduct autopsies on your disasters”- Move ON !!!! She does talk about how Einstein does the combinatory play which is an act of opening up one mental channel by dabbling in another. For example, LG had been writing. At one point of time, to get more focus she had a break and started learning to decorate her house by gardening stuff. Later, she had become an expert in the gardening and its history.This paved a way for her to write a book called The Signature of All Things which talks about the gardening and its history since the nineteenth century.This book also talks about the difference between need and want. She says the universe responds to our need and not our want.

The last part Divinity which runs only for a few pages talks about the difference between sacred and profane what happened in Indonesia regarding the Balinese dance style and how it evolved from a holy dance to the entertainment and vice versa.

Personally speaking, I had a feeling that, the book is like a guide and it provides light to the dark path that we have been following due to the noise all over. I had a feeling that LG was advising like my mom who always encourages me to do the stuff what I do. But the only difference between my mom and LG is : mom asks me to pursue the path that I want by immediately quitting the existing one.Put your heart and soul to achieve what you want whereas LG talks about not quitting the existing job to do whatever we want. Do stuff as trial and error and if it succeeds proceed else find another way to your creativity.And another is mom gives me this advice for a profession whereas LG had advised for the vocation. The balance is attained here.This book should be read by people who had failed to persevere and went by the noise in the universe.If you had felt that the book talks about only fat chance and not anything else, then do not read this.

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