“I have a friend, an aspiring musician, whose sister said to her one day, quite reasonably, ‘What happens if you never get anything out of this? What happens if you pursue your passion forever, but success never comes? How will you feel then, having wasted your entire life for nothing?’ My friend, with equal reason, replied, ‘If you can’t see what I’m already getting out of this, then I’ll never be able to explain it to you’.” – Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Almost ten years after publishing her best selling novel, Eat Pray Love (which was later turned into a feature film starring Julia Roberts), Elizabeth Gilbert wrote the incredible book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
As a former 9-5 corporate executive transitioning to the entrepreneurial world of coaching, I was immediately drawn to Big Magic – I read it furiously, wrote in every margin, stuck post-it notes on every second page. It spoke to me in ways a good book should. It stayed with me in ways a good book will.
So, when I received notice that Liz would be leading her first women’s-only Big Magic workshop at the world-renowned Chopra Center in Carlsbad, California, I jumped at the chance to go.
And it changed my life.
We discussed creative living. And embracing fear. We cried. We laughed. We swore. We talked to one another about the things holding us back.
I may even have climbed on stage with Liz and sung a terrible karaoke version of Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball with her as well. But, that’s a whole other blog post.
The experience I had there only lasted a few days, but the messages I received I will carry with me always – and share with anyone who will listen. And that is this: Inspiration is magic. Magic leads to creativity. Creative work is necessary for survival. But, you must also – yourself – survive, or who will put forth the art?
We are, without a doubt, entering a world in which women of all ages are rising up as entrepreneurs – exchanging “boys clubs” for support clubs, and sacrificing a stable, pensionable 9-to-5 for a business that allows them the freedom to write their own rules and set their own goals. And, I’m all for it. When you’re surviving.
But, what happens when you don’t?
How much pressure are you putting on your creative work when you expect that it fulfills you, lifts you up, transforms your life, touches other people’s lives, brings beauty and magic into the world, and also somehow pays the bills for you, too?
When did the line between passions, pay checks and purpose become so blurred?
I assure you that your real purpose – the one your Soul intends for you – does not include a lack of abundance. It does not include struggle and strife and worry about where the next hydro payment is coming from. Your Soul – and therefore you – cannot exist peacefully when you remain at war with what actually is.
And what actually is is a world that requires you to pay your rent.
There is a very big difference between being passionate about something and being in business for it. And there’s this very odd misconception out there that finding joy and peace and happiness means quitting your day job and becoming your own boss.
So, let’s discuss.
Passion is exactly what it sounds like: wild, sometimes uncontrollable action. It’s when we love so deeply, we do not care to add consideration or pause. While this can sound desperately appealing, it can also resemble a passing addiction.
But we also think of passions as the things our Souls are calling us toward – the things we feel we cannot live without. That speaking gig. That new website. That dream business. That book we’ve been meaning to write. That art project we simply can’t imagine not creating.
This work is the most important work we can do – giving back our love, our wisdom, our creativity in service to magic. But, unlike rent – which is controlled by the day and by the month – our passions are barely controllable. And those two thoughts don’t align.
Paychecks, on the other hand, despite their frequency, are simply funds. From employer to employee. Or customer to vendor. These are the necessaries of life. These are the coins that turn the cog that allow us a place to create our art.
And purpose – well, thats the feeling you get when the stars align and you can merge passion and paychecks together – or simply keep them apart. You will know this when you know this. You will feel this when you feel this. When you stop forcing your uncontrollable passions to pay your totally-controllable rent, you will begin to see the space that lies beyond… the lighted room where creative living happens every single day.
Is there a formula for this stuff? There sure is… but it’s different for everyone. And that’s why we need help and support figuring out what our purpose formula really is. In the meantime, the best way to wrangle inspiration in is by getting still and practising real soulful listening. If you’re connected deeply to your purpose, without attachment to outcome or paycheck, the real magic will unfold in the most beautiful way possible.