I was lucky enough to attend Elizabeth Gilbert's first-ever writers workshop over the weekend, and as I later told my mom, Elizabeth brought the perfect mix of eloquence, enlightenment, and f-bombs. She's whip-smart and hilarious, sarcastic and self-deprecating in a way that's still self-loving. I adored her. Admired everything about her. And by the time I left, I felt the same way I did after I went to a taping of The Oprah Show — awestruck, energized, and ready to save the world or something.
Like most people, I first fell for her writing with Eat Pray Love, and her most recent book, Big Magic, has become a permanent fixture on my desk. She's said that Big Magic is her manifesto, and much of the weekend's workshop was shaped around the ideas her book lays out on creativity.
My notebook is full of scribbled phrases I jotted down as she spoke, but there was one line I didn't even need to write down. It stuck with me, and I honestly can't stop thinking about it.
"What are you willing to give up to have the life you keep saying you want?"
After Elizabeth asked the question, it sort of hung in the air, shifting the energy of the room. She went on to explain the hardest part — that you don't just have to give up the things that are bad for you, or the things that are a waste of time. You have to give up some of the good things, too.
This is the part that really got me: the life you keep saying you want. It's so pointed, right? It forces you to compare the life you claim you want to the life you've actually created for yourself. What's different? What's not? How much are you willing to bend to make the two look more similar?
I'll leave you with that. Oh, and my favorite line from Big Magic, which is actually a line by Jack Gilbert, a poet: "We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world."
Stubborn gladness — so perfect, right?