Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert — book review

Each week on Monday morning, a bunch of bloggers set out with the noble intention of making people hate themselves and their work by telling them it is the best time to be an entrepreneur/author/rockstar and they should just quit their jobs to pursue their passion. It does not matter that the majority of the population have no clue what their ‘passion’ is. Living a life of creativity and art is the new hip thing. If you have a stable job which you reasonably like and provide for your family, you are not living your ‘true calling’ as per the new age lifestyle gurus.

I agree I have clicked on several of these articles — 7 questions to find out your inner passion, 5 reasons you should quit your job this week, etc. The vast majority of working population do not ‘love’ their jobs 24*7*365. Every job sucks at some point of time. Period. I sometimes envy my parents’ generation. They were not filled with such crap on a day to day basis. They seem to have done well. Just because my dad did not start a unicorn startupor my mom did not ‘lean in’ does not make them jerks. Law abiding citizens raise a good family is not a headline I would click open.

In the book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert talks extensively about leading a life filled with creativity and art. Nowhere does she urge the readers to quit their job or backpack across the world to find their hidden talents. The author draws upon several experiences from her life making it feel like part-memoir. At the same it does not get too preachy. Several nonfiction inspiration books tend to fall into failure porn or ‘hey I did it, so you can do it too’ genre. Big Magic is not about finding the magic in the big bang but rather in the little things we do each day.

The world adores a troubled artist who does drugs, drinks a lot and has a premature death. Because we like to attribute art as something that arises out of deep pain, anguish and demands a blood sacrifice. Liz quotes her own life and that of many other artists who lead a ‘normal, healthy’ life creating art that inspires millions each day. Art should not be put on a pedestal but rather something that arises out of joy when you let the magic of the universe work through you.

Reading a book that does not criticize me for having a job was quite refreshing. Liz speaks about her mother who grew vegetables and made pretty much anything the family wanted on her own. It was her mother’s way of being creative. Once the obligation to cash in a paycheck is removed, art blossoms at its own pace.

My takeaway from this book is if you want to write, then write. If you want to sing, then sing. Nobody is going to stop you. Do not put undue pressure on yourself to prove your worth to the world. Trust me, no one cares. If you want to make a career in arts, then by all means do. But start small. Hold on to your day job. Experiment on the side. Sometimes more often than not, people like their existing jobs and all they need is a hobby to blow off some steam. Quitting a job and then later figuring out that the muse was just a hobby all along can be quite painful.

So think. Do. Be. Create for your own pleasure. Have fun. Screw your passion. Get a job.