The Experience that changed my life by Shirley Debono

The event that comes to my mind when I searched my memories about this title was when I read the book ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert, which immediately made me curious about her famous memoir ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ and therefore undoubtedly read exactly after.  I will consider the reading of these two marvellous writings as one event because together they have changed me.

I was introduced to Elizabeth Gilbert and ‘Big Magic’ by a teacher a few years ago whilst studying creativity.  In this book, the author shares her unique perspective on the creative process.  She delves into the mysterious nature of inspiration and openly confesses her fears of creative living and how she deals with them.  The book is cleverly described as a vessel that ‘cracks open a world of wonder and joy’.  

After reading that book, I instantly became curious about the author, about creativity, about inspiration, and about the anxiety that tends to come hand-in-hand with creativity.   I have read her famous memoir ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ – I had seen the movie years before – but is it a cliche to say that even though the movie is good, the book is so good that it cannot even be compared to?  And what makes is so good?  Her writing.  Her understanding of life.  Her ability to express her deepest thoughts and her incredible talent in telling a story.  Her words are soothing and therapeutic.  The detail is magical – maybe it has something to do with the fact that she grew up on a Christmas tree farm. 🙂

I obviously follow her on social media, and her posts, her stories – as you can imagine – are all expressed in a manner that is simply beautiful.  I have since read her second memoir, ‘Committed’ and her fiction works ‘Signature of all Things’ and ‘City of Girls’.  They are all exceptional, but I think that the two books that I mentioned in the introduction are the ones that changed my life.  When Gilbert writes, she is meticulous and granular and intimate and this makes you feel as though you inhabit her heart and her mind.  Her passion for writing is undeniable; her passion for life is undeniable; her passion to write about her understanding of life is a gift.  

This has taught me to really and truly research a subject before having an opinion or rushing to make a decision or writing about something.  The level of thinking required to be wise and careful and ultimately successful, is high.  I have learned to give my all in what I am doing and always ‘get back to work’ (quoting Elizabeth herself when asked about advice on becoming a writer) when I feel that I should give up.  I have also understood slightly better the notion of inspiration.  It is a mystery – especially how it is so hard to be controlled – but what I have found that works is to set the right ambience for inspiration (this is uniquely different for every individual) and then to start working and wait.  Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes it even comes at the most untimely moments… in the shower, in the car whilst stuck in traffic, during Mass, whilst feeding your child.  It is important not to become flustered by this but to acknowledge that inspiration is fluid-like.  It moves and it is not a switch you can control.  Honestly I think that this is the beauty of inspiration.  

Training the mind to be more open is a skill.  Like any skill, it takes discipline and time to master it.  However, even the slightest tendency to have an open mind, enables one to be more easily inspired.  Since inspiration can be found in every form, the best way to attract it is by doing something other than sit and wait for it.  This may sound contradictory to what I said earlier but it is different every time.  Sometimes, sitting down and working will be enough.  Other times, this will result in zero productivity and so one must get up and do something else.  Keeping your mind open during any activity you engage in, be it reading a book, going for a run, flipping over a magazine or scrolling through Facebook, sometimes, something just clicks (that priceless AHA moment) and you have your idea.  Well this is how I go about it and how it works for me and I have learned about all this from Elizabeth Gilbert, her books, her TED talks, her posts, her thoughts and I admire her for being so raw, creative and honest in her writing and having the courage to share it all with the public.  

So you guessed what I am about to suggest…  Follow her on social media and read her books and be prepared from some Big Magic!

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