Elizabeth Gilbert, acclaimed author of Eat, Pray, Love was in Portland Maine recently giving a lecture for the benefit of the Telling Room, a charity that encourages young writers.
Elizabeth was spectacular. Human, funny, adorable. She talked about the whole depressed, tortured artist myth—and how it didn’t happen until the Renaissance when people started to think of THEMSELVES as geniuses, instead of as containers for the creativity and genius that happened to be hovering around them, awaiting an outlet. Before the Renaissance, genius was felt to be a kind of spirit or energy that was around a home or a family. And the family or artists simply expressed it. But during the Renaissance, as the importance of the individual rose, the individual artist assumed ownership of creativity and genius as though these qualities were personal. And this became a huge burden as the ego identified with creative genius—instead of dancing with the mystery of it, as something that comes through us but isn’t us.
I have personally questioned the necessity of the tortured artist myth for years. And so I wanted to stand up and cheer when Elizabeth broached it. Her basic belief (which I wholeheartedly agree with) is this: Creativity is a supreme mystery. We don’t really know where true creative genius comes from. We will be much healthier and happier as creative individuals if we see ourselves as vehicles for this creativity—instead of as the Source of it. How I loved this concept!! Creative ideas and inspiration are all around, all the time. And at any given time, we’re either ready to receive them or we’re not. They don’t go away. They were here before we were born. And they will be there long after we are gone.
She also spoke about how common the purveyors of negativity are in our culture. And how, when she was just starting out as a writer, people said to her, “Aren’t you worried about how you’ll ever make a living?” And now that she’s highly successful, people say, “Aren’t you worried that you’ll never be able to write another best seller?” She quipped, “It’s like people run around with these little platters of fear that they’d like you to sample; panic puffs, anyone?” So true.
And the antidote for all of this? To remember who you really are. And that who you really are will always take you right back to your Source energy—or God. Elizabeth, thank you. You are a treasure!!