Book Review: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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lifestyle / Los Angeles / Uncategorized

I am a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert. Even BIGGER fan of her book-turned-movie, Eat, Pray, Love.

When I saw this book standing on the shelf at LaGuardia, and saw her name on the brightest, almost too colorful cover that would scream, ‘Hi, look at me! I’m reading a book,’ I took a picture of it.

Yes, I took a picture of the cover of the book. I didn’t buy it. Because I don’t buy books in airports for twice (maybe even thrice) the price, when I can get it for cheaper on Amazon.

So, when I was scrolling through my camera roll a few weeks ago to clear out some storage, I came across this picture — cover of this book. I opened my laptop,  went on Amazon.com and ordered it.

Eat, Pray, Love changed my life. Elizabeth Gilbert kind of changed my life, and she has no idea. Also, I’m not being dramatic whatsoever.

I quit my dream job, and left New York City to focus on my mental health. The book gave me a moment of awakening — I don’t have to live like this. Eat, Pray, Love makes you value yourself, and all of the little moments in life because they come together to be a BIG part of who you are and what makes you happy. I’m not the only one who feels this way. In fact, there is an entire compilation of individual accounts written by real people, who unfold their own experiences post-reading this book. Very life-changing.  (I’ve read it and wrote about it here)

Because that book served as essentially my guiding light during a dark period, I kind of had expectations for Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. I wanted to feel that “aha!” moment again.

I got a minimized version of that feeling, but I am not disappointed. Big Magic is a casual read with direct advice from Elizabeth. She wants me, you, and everyone to live some damn creative lives; I completely agree with her. We are all artists in some way. I paint and repaint my nails honestly way too often; probably three different shades a week and that’s the minimum. But, that is a form of creative expression. I do my makeup differently almost everyday. That is a form of art. I throw whatever’s in my fridge and cabinet to make an edible dinner. That is a form of creativity? (Right?) We are doing it everyday — being creative.

However, our passions (which are more likely categorized in the creative arena) is a different story. We are all pretty familiar with the struggle between passions and career, and finding the medium and balance between the two. I agree with Elizabeth’s thoughts on this infamous topic. Do not give your passion the responsibility and pressure to pay your bills. Engage with your passion because you love doing it, and because without it, you wouldn’t be you. Do not abandon your ideas and passion because they’re not giving you noticeable returns. They are giving something back to you, and it’s priceless.

Key takeaways from the book:

  • In ancient Greek, the word fro the highest degree of human happiness is eudaimonia, which basically means “well-daemoned.” (Page 67)
  • Because in the end, creativity is a gift to the creator, not just a gift to the audience. (Page 72)
  • I once wrote a book in order to save myself. I wrote a travel memoir in order to make sense of my own journey and my own emotional confusion. All I was trying to do with that book was figure myself out. In the process, though, I wrote a story that apparently helped a lot of other people figure themselves out–but that was never my intention. (Page 99)
  • Always remember that people’s judgments about you are none of your business. (Page 121)
  • If you want to be an artist of any sort, it seemed to me, then handling your frustration is a fundamental aspect of the work–perhaps the single most fundamental aspect of your work. Frustration is not an interruption of your process; frustration is the process. (Page 149)
  • MY FAVORITE TAKEAWAY: I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear. I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, “I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.” (Page 167)

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to live and lead a more creative life. I think everyone needs a creative outlet to feel happy and fulfilled life. It isn’t an easy relationship/friendship, but it’s one worth fighting for.

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The Author

Los Angeles

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