Elizabeth Gilbert returns to the passion of writing
Elizabeth Gilbert knows how to battle the issue of failure. She explained her experiences with a TED audience.
Liz persisted in writing creations which were repeatedly rejected. This was the first experience of failure. Then after Julia Roberts played her in a movie, she wondered how she could top Eat Pray Love. Anything she did next would be compared to her best-seller. Her only solution was to do her work because she loves it, not because people expect it to be a success.
Elizabeth Gilbert pondered the hypothetical idea of quitting her craft. But the avoidance of expectations would mean abandoning a beloved creative gift. This was not the solution.
Our own goals can be overwhelming. It could be creativity or creation of technical work. I am encouraged to realise even the famed Elizabeth Gilbert searches for faith in her own abilities. I definitely at times wonder, "How could I do this?"
Gilbert's answer is one which many of us can identify with. She says she loves writing more than the fear of failing, more than her own ego, more than herself. Liz describes both failure and success as getting "lost in the hinterlands of the psyche." She compares these two experiences to being "flung" away from yourself, or your metaphorical 'home.' "Your home is whatever in this world you love more than you love yourself... results become inconsequential."Attention and failure distract and detach you from the core purpose and meaning of what you do.
Her solution is to work with all her strength towards her core purpose. "Fight your way back to that home... Performing with diligence, and devotion, and respect, and reverence." Of course, other work is important in the world, just like her days as a waitress. But a 'home' or passion is the one which brings out our talents the most. It is the greatest gift to the world. Elizabeth writes for the love of expression, not for the love of general publics.
These words are completely relatable. The extreme worlds of the attention and rejection have at times made me feel detached. I have always enjoyed bringing attention to something. Perhaps it started in primary school, when I was kicked out of class for telling the truth about Santa. Then my emails as an 18 year old were lengthy social statements. I later discovered the blessed medium of blogging. There was always a core message behind these attention-grabbing statements.
I only feel fulfilled when helping people and social issues. Everything I do needs to contribute to the well-being of other people. Whenever I wear an attention-grabbing outfit, or write a blog post, or organise an event, it needs to be done with love for others. The scariest thing in the world would be intolerance towards diversity.
I suppose this stems from a lifetime of being slightly on the periphery of the world. I have always felt somewhat different to the mainstream. And my one wish is for other people to celebrate their differences more than I know how. Life should be easier than it is. Why not work towards better quality of life? These solutions often need attention to gain mainstream support. Nothing is more amazing than achieving that public support.
That is my passion. Other people are more passionate about finding mathematical patterns, or making something aesthetically beautiful. Liz Gilbert's advice is universal. Whatever your soul's passion, whichever skill you are most gifted at, it should be your home.
In the words of the wonderfully wise Elizabeth Gilbert:
"I will always be safe from the random hurricanes of outcome, as long as I never forget where I rightfully live."
The TED talk can be seen here.