Choose What to Trust - Trust

Big magic: creative living beyond fear - Elizabeth Gilbert 2015

Choose What to Trust

If you choose to go the other way, though (if you choose to trust suffering over love), be aware that you are building your house upon a battlefield. And when so many people treat their creative process as a war zone, is it any wonder there are such severe casualties? So much despair, so much darkness. And at such a cost!

I won’t even attempt to list the names of all the writers, poets, artists, dancers, composers, actors, and musicians who have committed suicide in the past century, or who died long before their time from that slowest of suicidal tactics, alcoholism. (You want the numbers? The Internet will give you the numbers. But believe me, it’s a grim reaping.) These lost prodigies were unhappy for an infinite variety of reasons, to be sure, though I’m willing to bet that they had all—at least for one flowering moment of their lives—once loved their work. Yet if you’d asked any of these gifted, troubled souls whether they’d ever believed that their work loved them in return, I suspect they would’ve said no.

But why wouldn’t it have?

This is my question, and I think it’s a fair one: Why would your creativity not love you? It came to you, didn’t it? It drew itself near. It worked itself into you, asking for your attention and your devotion. It filled you with the desire to make and do interesting things. Creativity wanted a relationship with you. That must be for a reason, right? Do you honestly believe that creativity went through all the trouble of breaking into your consciousness only because it wanted to kill you?

That doesn’t even make sense! How does creativity possibly benefit from such an arrangement? When Dylan Thomas dies, there are no more Dylan Thomas poems; that channel is silenced forever, terribly. I cannot imagine a universe in which creativity would possibly desire that outcome. I can only imagine that creativity would much prefer a world in which Dylan Thomas had continued to live and to produce, for a long natural life. Dylan Thomas and a thousand others, besides. There’s a hole in our world from all the art those people did not make—there is a hole in us from the loss of their work—and I cannot imagine this was ever anyone’s divine plan.

Because think about it: If the only thing an idea wants is to be made manifest, then why would that idea deliberately harm you, when you are the one who might be able to bring it forth? (Nature provides the seed; man provides the garden; each is grateful for the other’s help.)

Is it possible, then, that creativity is not fucking with us at all, but that we have been fucking with it?