Big Magic, the biography of Magic Mike…

joking, joking.  Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, is the latest book by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love, which i never finished.

i borrowed it from the library in summer 2007, shortly after moving back from Italy and in with my parents, a time that was precisely as difficult as it sounds.

my copy had Post-It flags sticking out of nearly every page and i was already about two-thirds through when i quit.

i was unsettled, mired in every kind of transition—linguistic, geographical, social—and her story hit too close to home.  in so many ways it felt like looking in a mirror.  i wasn’t ready to deal with what i saw.

plus, like lots of people, i respect and envy her.  she’s an accomplished and impressive writer but the smallest Julia is jealous.  and rationalizes it.  surely her subsequent success—the traditional, cash-money kind—outweighs her preceding gloom and suffering? 

before moving to LA, i lived near Gilbert.  we were separated by 20 minutes of winding, backcountry roads.  i could’ve become a groupie, chasing her around the small town and hanging out at the store she and her husband run.  i never visited. 

what would i’ve said?  i am you, in essence.  our birthdays are two days apart.  adopt me?  let me absorb your brilliance?  fix my life?  but before i move in, i should clarify.  you generally drive me nuts and seem smug.

would i have hugged her or wrung her neck?  i wasn’t sure.  her breezy, happy-ending phoenix story up from the ashes to the pinnacle of culture it-lists was unnerving.  simultaneously, we were so similar, i felt like i already knew her.  it was a volatile dichotomy i never bothered exploring. 

but, i’m hearing her speak tomorrow night.

i’m going for the same reason i attend the class of a yoga teacher i don’t actually like: maybe there’s something to learn.  the teacher’s ego disturbs mine and i want to understand what my reaction shows me about myself. 

with Gilbert, i’m ready to give her another chance, or a complete first chance.  and she definitely has wisdom to share.  Big Magic is about the “attitudes, approaches, and habits” we need to live our most creative lives.

look for a re-cap next week.