I just finished reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I felt compelled to share how I put what I learned to good use. First off, though, I want to mention that nothing in that book is new, per se. It rather confirms so much of what I have come to feel and to believe. It does put fear into a new light, and I rather like the concept of ideas as “beings”. Ultimately, it is life affirming, but this is not a review. This is a story of putting her book to good use!
So, she brings up near the end the concept of the martyr vs. the trickster. The martyr is the one who claims he would die for his art, and the trickster is the one who says, “pick a card, any card.” At least, I think that is how Elizabeth put it, but because of my wonderful trickster skills played on my daughter, I can’t grab the book to check.
See, my daughter LOVES to read and write. She has written several novels on Google docs, scribbled in journals and on loose paper, and God only knows where else, but she has never finished one. She won’t let me read them, nor anyone else, but I know she is uber talented from some of the school assignments she has shared with me. She also is an amazing singer, but she is shy about getting out and sharing her beautiful voice around town. She usually sings within a choir, and is slowly finding her voice, but hasn’t yet put herself out there, despite wanting to be a singer for a living.
Big Magic starts out talking about Fear, how Fear is always with us, but that it cannot drive the bus. In order to live a full life, we can’t let Fear take control. I have wanted my daughter to read Big Magic since I picked it up a couple weeks ago. She is close to graduating high school and unsure about what to do or how to do it when it comes to “adulting” and pursuing singing as a career. I mentioned the book to her and tried to put a neat spin on it, but my suggestion was just that. Another “task” from Mom to better herself, because she is not doing enough (likely her interpretation).
So tonight, we sat quietly across the den from each other after some bickering about something completely unrelated. I was finishing Big Magic, and she was reading a Harry Potter book for the umpteenth time. I finished the book, looked over, and said, “I dare you to read the first 27 pages of this book and NOT finish it,” grinning slyly. She replied with a grin that said, “I love a challenge,”…”Oh, while I am reading a book? Me?”
She grinned for a few seconds, locking eyes with me as if to gauge my intent, then put down her Harry Potter and accepted the offer. I added that she didn’t need to accept the challenge, implying that it would be ok to finish the book, but not actually saying that. Then, I walked away before I said anything else and ruined it all.
I think I might have gotten her to read this book at a time in her life when she is faced with multiple unknowns and is crippled with doubt about her abilities.
I managed to work the trickster into my parenting. In recollection, when I have had the inspiration to be cunning and playful like that were the times when I was able to best reach my daughter, or to at least get her to do something I wanted her to do.
Mission accomplished! I felt compelled to share in my blog and with Elizabeth. As she says in her book, follow the inspiration. Or, rather, allow it to work through you.