Your Artistic Fairy Godmother Grants You Permission

“Dream and give yourself permission to envision a You that you choose to be.”

-Joy Page

This past week, I have been devouring Elizabeth Gilbert’s Podcast Magic Lessons. Although there have been no new episodes since 2016, I easily have listened to half of them in the past week. What is interesting about these episodes, is artisits of all sorts contact Liz with their creative dilemmas. Poets, comedians, writers, dancers, graphic designers all inquire her with their current stuck points in their creativity.

Godmother Liz will listen with an empathic heart. Often times she has felt their pain, because their issues are universal. How do you have the courage to share your work with a bigger audience with the possibility of not being embraced? How do you shift your creativity with age to bring you pleasure versus a paid audience? Can we welcome rejection and failure with open arms? Is it possible to quiet our own inner critic (or as Liz calls him inner terrorist) to allow creativity to flow ? Can we allow ourselves to make bad art?

Liz then offers personalized homework for them to accomplish in a span of weeks or months. In between the follow up conversation, Liz contacts leaders in the field to pick their brains about solutions to their creative struggles along the way. Dissecting creativity is so interesting to me. Not just the method of how to create art, but how to continue creating art despite barriers we or society place on ourselves. What is offered to these callers, is wisdom gained through years of experience, mishaps, and pain.

There was one particular episode (Episode 208 Leap Into the Fire), which stood out for me. The caller’s name was Hope, a poet from Ohio. Perhaps I have a kindred link to her, because that is my hometown state. Hope has begun performing her poems at open mic nights, but have not yet branched out to poetry slams or sent her poetry to journals for publication. What was stopping her was fear of failure. The expert Liz called in was infamous life coach Martha Beck.

Stepping into our fear was made parallel to the metaphor of stepping into the fire. Beck stated, “Go into a fire, if it celebrates you or warms you, more power to you. Find the next step that’s frightening and go into it. If it scorches you or burns you or it consumes you utterly, then you find a kindness that is so great that it can encompass the burning and from that kindness your poetry will start to ring to other people’s suffering and that’s art.”

Beck discussed with Gilbert the low and difficult times we face as humans. Sometimes it is at our most darkest moments, we are “left crying in a fetal position on the bathroom floor.” It is from this dark point that we start to unravel the self love and kindness, which is necessary to step into this next phase of our lives. If you are willing to walk toward what you fear, you will gain strength even in failure. And if that raw suffering and bravery is expressed through your art, people will relate.

We all have been there at those darkest moments, and people forget this. People believe they are suffering solo on their misery. But artists remind us, we are not alone. They help lift us up through their wings of song, dance, books, poems, paintings, jokes, or whatever the modality may be.

The metaphor was explored even deeper. We fear the fire because we feel it will not only deeply wound us but kill is. Beck adds, “Everytime you go into the fire, you come out with a new life. And it’s better than the last one.” We must die to give birth to a more fierce, courageous, and creative self. This happens continuously, if you are willing to take the chance.

What Liz and her creative gang are doing are giving people permission to walk into the fire. Take the chance to create.

Liz reminded Hope of the freedom she has to share her poetry with the world. For generations, the women in Hope’s family didn’t have a voice due to their role of being overburdened with having numerous children to care for or due to a lineage of slavery. Liz stated she reminds herself frequently to take the chance for the women in her family who never had the opportunity or voice to have a presence in the world. “That’s a tax I am willing to pay to be a woman who presents her soul’s work into the world. In honor of those who never could and those who still can’t. “

I highly encourage you to listen to the entirety of the podcast. Reflect on what your fears are currently, whether creatively or simply in your life at this point in time. What’s stopping you from taking that step?

And now here’s your chance, leap into the fire.

Link to podcast episode :

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