Over the last year I have been working out quite regularly. I needed to change some things, and my body was one of them. There is a part of me that just wanted to go to the gym and sit in the sauna and hope the changes would come. Due to the fact that this is not how life works, I set out on a twelve week workout plan. I really wanted to see myself in a new way. Not only did I long for the physical changes a good workout would bring me, I longed for the consistency, and the feeling of completing something. I am not always the best at starting and then finishing a plan. I am great at making plans, always have been, it’s the execution of it that always trips me up. Like when I start a home renovation project. In my mind this is a two, maybe three hour project, but in real life, it’s a week long ordeal, and I can’t handle the mess.
So, I set out to make the necessary commitments to myself, and went to the gym. One of the things I do when I workout is listen to audio books and podcasts. I am a huge fan of music, but not particularly the kind that gets my blood pumping. My soft, well written, poetic music just doesn’t fit well while I am running sprints and lifting weights, so I let people talk to me. I let the people in my ear tell me their stories. One of my most favorite people to listen to is Rob Bell. The first time I watched a Numa video was life changing for me. I couldn’t sit still inside my soul because of the amount of thoughts he provoked with his words. I didn’t understand it then like I do now, but what happened that day was God used Rob Bell’s talent to create thought with words, to speak to my hopes and talents deep inside, to do the same in my own way. So now he has a podcast, and I run on the treadmill, and I lift weights, while he interviews people and talks about biblical history, and it fills me with thoughts that cling to my being in such a way that I can see it.
When I got to the gym on this particular day, I hadn’t looked to see who Mr. Bell was going to be talking to, I just set out on my routine. When he introduced Elizabeth Gilbert, I almost sat down on the weight bench so I wouldn’t miss one word exchanged between the two. I had no clue two of my favorite word artists knew each other so well.
Elizabeth Gilbert, like Rob Bell, has a way of holding my soul with her words, and when she is done, my soul is stronger because of her art. I wanted to head to the closest book store and buy this beautiful book I just knew was going to inspire my soul right then. If the release date hadn’t been mentioned early on in the podcast, I may have left the gym and headed to the store to buy it only to find out I was a couple months early to it being on the shelves. So, I waited. I listened and re-listened to the two of them talk about Big Magic, and I let the idea of accepting how inspiration just wants to be found, hang around in my mind for a couple months. I wanted to have time to sit with the thought of what my idea of magical inspiration was, since I had to wait to read about Miss Gilbert’s.
In my past experiences the word magic has always been associated with evilness and connections to satin and hell, witches, and warlocks, and purple dinosaurs on public television. Halloween was terrifying. I associated the word miracle with light, and inspiration, creation and, Jesus, but not magic. Magic was bad mojo. So this interested me in a way, because I have come to see that much of what I was taught by pastors and the like was not really fitting into most of how real life and the scriptures seam to relate.
If two people that I admire so much are using the word magic in this positive way, there must be more to this word than how I have come to know it. I felt like it must be one of the words in Webster’s dictionary that has more than one meaning, and when you read them, you realize they don’t line up with each other at all, but somehow, both definitions make sense. So I looked it up, and sure enough, we use this word in a couple of different ways. We use it to describe supernatural powers, and wonderful and exciting things we can’t explain. This gave me a new way to see the word and feel better about using it as well. Don’t misunderstand me, I am still terrified of that purple dinosaur, but maybe, I thought just maybe, I can open up my perspective of one word and let the meanings come to life and not my past experiences.
It can be so hard to face something new and not remember something old. I have a good friend who is currently facing the obstacles of finding a new home. She is looking for someone’s old house to restore and make it her very own safe place. However, her last experience with home ownership has strings tied to emotions like a bunch of balloons that are tied to her wrist. Every time she tries to fit herself into a new home she is dragging the balloons filled with emotions along with her. So, together we are learning to untie the emotions that don’t need to stay with us and let them go. This can be extremely painful right up until the string is loosed and the balloon is off, and then the relief of it’s pull is so much better then expected. It’s just not easy letting those experiences go and facing new things without them.
I was on vacation when the release date finally came around, and Caleb and I got up and headed to Barns and Noble so I could get my hands on the magic. I walked in and was expecting, due to my excitement, a table full of the books all stacked like a tower and for there to be a light beaming down from above to illuminate the words. Nothing. There was nothing. I looked and looked and started to feel disappointed. What if the Barns and Noble in Colorado wasn’t carrying “Big Magic” and I was going to have to wait until I got home to get it? What if the factory burnt down with all the books inside and I wasn’t going to get my hands on it at all…?
So, slowly I walked up to the counter and asked where I might find the words I had been craving for months now and the girl smiled at me, probably because I looked panicked, and politely said, “I am so sorry, but it won’t be released until tomorrow and it’s illegal for me to sell it to you today.” I started laughing. Here I was in an all out panic because Elizabeth Gilbert’s words had most likely been burnt in a fire and lost forever, and never once thought that I had gotten the release date wrong. Early the next morning all was as I expected it to be when I came back to the store on the correct date to find a table full of magic lit up with a soft light from above waiting for me when I walked back in the door.
I swallowed her words, and let them bring magic into my life. I can’t write her words out for you in any better way than she wrote them herself, but I will share with you one thing she said that I have let become one of the most valuable things I own. She talks about inviting your creativity, and your fear to ride side by side and do their jobs. Fear has it’s job to do, and without it, we might have never made it very far on this planet. However, like she says, when I am writing out my story I am in no danger of dying. So, fear, please sit back and let me work. This really made sense to me. So much so, that I started talking to my kids about it when we were studying for an oral report in their history class. I told my nine and ten year olds, that if you talk to your fear, and recognize it’s trying to help you, and you just let it know you are not in danger just doing your school work, and you need fear to take a seat and let you work, you give yourself the freedom to relax and let creativity do it’s job. They liked that a lot and did really well on their reports.
So, now I find myself looking for the magic instead of shying away from it. I let myself talk to my emotions and together, we are creating.