Optimism & Vocation

Yes, this is real. It hangs in my office to remind me that I've been this way my whole life!

Yes, this is real. It hangs in my office to remind me that I've been this way my whole life!

The past few months I’ve had a faint obsession with a book by a writer that as soon as I mention her name, I’m met with either a groan or a smile. I blame Julia Roberts. Not that she’s the writer, but she became the face of this woman when she played the role of her story in a little film, from a little book, Eat, Pray, Love.

See, you’re already doing it aren’t you?  Smiling or grimacing? 

But stay with me for a minute.

Here’s the thing about her latest book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert boldly states what so many won’t about being an artist. Simply that what we do matters beyond belief and it doesn’t matter at all. She writes so well about the artists journey through triumph and failure and all the stops along the way – something she could never have spoken of with such authority if it hadn’t been for that little bit of eating, praying and loving she shared with the world.

There are so many passages from this new book I want to share, but one in particular that I underlined, highlighted, made exclamation marks and circles around was this:

“….whenever I start complaining….I have felt my self-pity slam the door on inspiration, making the room feel suddenly cold, small and empty. That being the case, I took this path as a young person: I started telling myself that I ENJOYED MY WORK. I proclaimed that I enjoyed every single aspect of my creative endeavors – the agony and the ecstasy, the success and the failure, the joy and the embarrassment, the dry spells and the grind and the stumble and the confusion and the stupidity of it all. 
I even dared to say this aloud.
I told the universe (and anyone who would listen) that I was committed to living a creative life not in order to save the world, not as an act of protest, not to become famous, not to gain entrance to the canon, not to challenge the system, not to show the bastards, not to prove to my family that I was worthy, not as a form of deep therapeutic emotional catharsis…but simply because I LIKED IT.”

I would dare to say that there have been people who have passed through my life and found me the most foolish and irritating person they’d encountered because of just those same sentiments I share with Elizabeth Gilbert - optimism and joy in the midst of drama and despair.

I know based on industry standards and social media demands, I am supposed to want fame and fortune. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good payday! But more than anything I love the creative process and I love my chosen vocation as weird and random as it sometimes seems. 

So, I will take my optimism with a dash of pragmatism and a whole bundle of inspiration and I will see another day through where I am grateful for all the creative beings in my life and all the creative opportunities that come my way and boldly enjoy my chosen vocation!