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Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ruthless Courage

Conquering Fear

...Susan is still figure skating several mornings a week—simply because skating is still the best way for her to unfold a certain beauty and transcendence within her life that she cannot seem to access in any other manner. And she would like to spend as much time as possible in such a state of transcendence while she's still here on earth.”
Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic)

In her book, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert lists three pages worth of fears that keep us from living a transcendent life. It's a pretty good list, though probably not complete—everything from fear of having no talent, to fear you won't be taken seriously, to fear of being humiliated, to fear of being an embarrassment to your family. The list goes on—you could add your personal favorites to it. In many ways, the whole notion of living a creative, transcendent life terrifies us because we cannot hold to conventions and be safely within the mainstream, and be innovative and creative at the same time. We have to break the mold, so to speak—like a baby chick pecking its way out of its shell, it is necessary for us to jump that hurdle ourselves.

The thing we don't quite believe is that we can live creatively just for ourselves—like Gilbert's friend, Susan, who quit figure skating as a teenager because she was not destined to be a superstar, and then picked it back up in her forties, because she remembered how exhilarating she found it as a kid. We can do what we love just for fun even if no one else appreciates it, even if we never get published, even if no one will ever hang our art in a gallery. The fact that we are in a state of transcendence when we are engaged in creativity is enough reason to do it. Who wants to get to the end of their life and say, “I held to conventions. I did what was expected of me.” What if the whole purpose of being here on this earth in this lifetime is so that your particular form of originality can be expressed?

It takes courage to conquer fear—ruthless courage. Even if you go trembling through it, don't let fear keep you from living the fullness of your own beautiful life.

                                                        In the Spirit,

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