The Art of Being Yourself with Elizabeth Gilbert
everybody. What's up, Chase? Welcome to another episode of the Chase Jarvis live show here on creative life. You don't know the show. This is where I sit down with the best humans in the world. And I do everything. I can't impact their brains with the goal of helping you live your dreams or that's in career in hobby or in life. I guess today you will recognize her immediately. When I say the first thing out of my mouth. Which is? She wrote. Pray, love. A considerable time ago. Then she was named one of the most 100 influential people in the world by Time magazine. We're here today to talk about creativity, to talk about building a living in a life that you love and her new book called City Girls. My guest is the inimitable Elizabeth Gilbert. Do you love? Hi. That was a very dramatic Teoh. Put on a show. Thank you for you. Thank you so much. Congrats on your new book. Thank you. A novel. A novel? Yeah. Yeah, that's my roots. I know. Yeah, It's, uh it's funny, cause I think it's very cut...
e when people come up to me and they say, I loved your first book so much. I'm like, What is that? I don't think you loved my tiny, obscure collection of literary short stories that I push in 1995. I think you're thinking about every love you're thinking of like governor. But I did get my start in fiction, and this is my fourth work of fiction. It's just I love it. It's so fun for May, it's my home. Do you feel like Did you feel like you went back to it, or was it just always? And was it? Is it fair to say that you wrote a non fiction book about creative you last time for just Was that the deviation and your your roots in your line is, I guess it's just like Project to Project. I don't know. I just follow the magnet in the sky that tells me what the next thing to do is, and I don't over think it too much about what genre is. It's like what is the story that I want to tell what is the best form in which to tell it? And this is a novel about promiscuous girls, which is a story I wanted to tell for a long time. It's about it's set in New York City in the 19 forties and the theater world. But it's really a book about girls behaving really recklessly with their sexuality and not being ruined by it. Which is not an easy book to find in the annals of Western history, cause normally essential girls. Did you write? This is an antidote. Yeah, it's like a palate cleanser from Anna Karina. Guess what? Because like, I feel like all those books are I love all these books and accordion and all the Henry James books and, um, and the Bovary and had a gambler. And was its whole history of books about ruined women, Um, ending in disgrace because they dared to have central desire. And I'm, like, so unfair. It's like one orgasm and then you're under the wheels of the train, you know? So So I wanted to write books, sort of celebrating how you can do very stupid and reckless central things and actually survive yourself. Andi, turn into a really interesting, seasoned older woman, which is what this books about. Is there? Can we Can we make logical extensions from that. Or is it just about sexual? What's your point here? Is it just the sexuality part? It's, um how how do you become yourself? That's also what the book is about. It's about a young girl moving to New York and 1940 when she's 19. After filling out a call after dropping out of college, I moved to New York in 1986 when I was 19 not to drop out of college, but I know the feeling of being young, hungry, yearning, craving and wanting to know where my people, where is my tribe and where am I gonna go to become this thing that I want to be? And I don't even know what it is yet, But I'm drawn somehow to this metropolis or that metropolis through this. Answer that answer. So it's a it's a coming of age book as well. There's a line in there I might get one or two were drunk, but it was remarkable to me you can only move to New York as a young woman once. Yeah, you just get to move to New York for the first time in your life, once in your life, on. It's a big deal. Yeah, big. So what parts of the book are, Um, are our memoir driven? Yeah, And is it just weaving in and out of your life? Or is it specifically fiction? It's fiction because it's a novel, but, you know, if you want to know who I am, read it. That's what I would say about all of my novels, because it's the There's an adage, and I think it's wise and true. But if you want to write it on his memoir, write a novel and the reason is you're not protecting yourself from anything. Eso you get to actually tell if not the actual letter of the law story, the feeling like this, because about what it felt like for me to be in my twenties. It doesn't matter that it's in the 19 forties and then develop showgirls in the New York City theater world. It's I know what that feels like to be that girl, and that's something that I wanted to revisit. Recreate why that is the backdrop. Was that it? Because it was a time where all of these things were more taboo. Or why did why did you choose, and the theater is a theatre world. Vivian. Actually, I probably shouldn't say to his brother because you should go read it but Mr New York and get swept up in the theater role because Rand Peg and is that the theater and creativity? Because that could notes a specific something that you wanted about the character and, you know you're on it, you got it. I mean, it's personal to New York City in the 19 forties, and that, to me, just feels like most impossibly glamorous moment of my city's history, its way. All I love the New York that I moved to, but there's always a shadow of a New York that used to be there. That I've always been fascinated with New York during the war is a really interesting moment for me. It's also really interesting moment for women in New York, particularly because they were working. The men were all gone, and so all these social mores that had existed that were really limiting. Two women were gone when men left. So did the mores. Andi. So there used to be rules like a respectable girl cannot walk down the street unless after a certain time of evening if she's not on the arm of respectful man. Well, there weren't any then, you know. So all of a sudden these women were free on day, had jobs working in the naval yard, and they were earning good money. And there was just this moment of freedom and opening. It closed after that, like the fifties came, the men came back and the women were sent back home and to wear big dresses and pearls and wait for their husbands to come home. But there was this period during the war, and there's a line in the book where Vivian says, one thing that I learned my girlfriends was that when women are together with no men around, a woman doesn't have to be this thing or that thing. She could just be. And I feel like New York in the forties was a time when there were a lot of women who could just be Andi. That's like an aspirational thing for me. To is like, What would it be like to be a woman who could just be just be just be not have to be a thing just be and does that come out of it. Go back to the comment earlier about this being an antidote. Yeah, is implicit in that That were the in this book, you can just be. Is that all? Also an antidote all too. The world that we're in today, where we have to be, You know, you can list a long list of things who were supposed to be and who was supposed to dress like and look like and where and talking walk. And how many free people do you know, like, truly free? Very few. Yeah, Me neither. How many relaxed people do you know? Also, Very few. How many relaxed women have you ever met in your entire life? Handful. Yeah. Hey, that's what I'm into is like, what would it be? And this is the question that I'm living into in my own life as well. Like, I think the most revolutionary thing that a woman could be in this world or any is relaxed. So my book is largely about a woman becoming that you know, I think if you're gonna meet one ever, she's likely to be older, considerably older, where it just gets to a point where They're like, I can't I just can't anymore. You know, like I used Teoh. I just can't You know, there's a certain age that I wouldn't get, too. And I'm feeling on the brink of it. But I'm not quite there yet, but but my greatest aspiration, aside from being my really great aspiration, which is to be love in every room that I'm in, my other aspiration is to be the most relaxed person everywhere and to actually show women what it might look like to be at ease. Is that a response to an earlier in different time in your life? Well, I've been a really high vibrational Lee anxious person my whole life, but I also see that everyone is on. This is also a moment in history where I think, um, anxieties, nearly universal. It's just peek everyone, like everywhere in the world, everywhere in the world. I mean, it's a it's a product of Westernization, and it's a product. Like when I first went to Bali 15 20 years ago, it wasn't like that. I'm there now. Balinese people are stressed Now. It's like we have exported. This is a fucking virus like stress is this virus that has has somehow colonized world that's killing everybody on. There's really, really good empirical reason for it. I mean, wait, we are like, you know, in the approaching Armageddon and welcome to the catastrophe of a dying planet. And like the Dumpster fire, that is politics. All of that is true. And if you walk around in this world is as ever in a woman's body, that's all heightened because because you're always in a sort of sense of of danger. And yet there's some stubborn part of me that's like, Yeah, but what if I just didn't drink your anxiety lemonade? Um, and what if I found my own way to be in little skin where I was Okay, always. No matter what, Wouldn't that be something that actually really be something? How's it going? It's going better than it's ever gone in my life, you know, we're reading today For the first time, you greeted me with a huge hug. Yeah, been friends for a long time. Is that part of the universe that you're trying to lead into? I mean, that's just what I mean. I'm like, basically a golden retriever way. Just figured that, you know, we're supersensitive. Can Syrians? We just wish everyone would be in a pile together on the floor. So that's part of that nature. Why? Why is everyone not hugging all the time? Um, that's my nature, but to feel comfortable and relaxed, it takes a lot of really radical. It's interesting pathway. It takes foundational unbelievable honesty. Um, you have to you have to kind of be telling the truth all the time, which is weird, because you would think that wouldn't be relaxing. But what it doesn't in the end is it gives you a lot more time and space to, uh, not be doing the hustle, you know, like that. That's like a line of guided by is the Grace can take you places where hustling can't, um, and at the center of grace is just this integrity of great, like, just great truth telling. This isn't working for me like this thing that this situation saying no, like, but saying it just like it's OK. It's like, yeah, you can ask. But no, I spent most of my day saying, No, that's a large part of me learning how to be relaxed and when when you're talking truth is that truth to yourself? Is that truth other? Presumably it's both. But to what degree did you start to do this start to take shape? Is that what you realize that you're about herself when he started talking truth to yourself first, and then that manifest itself outwardly? Or was it he had to start being really honest with people about external commitments and that gave you this space and the freedom to get journal? Well, you should definitely try to have a completely on his relationship with at least one person in your life and probably best if it's yourself. It's a good place to start like I can't I can't speak anybody else's truth. You know, when I was guided by this really, like schooled in this intimately for years in my relationship with my my partner, Raya, who died a year and 1/2 ago, before we were together as a couple, we were best friends, and she had been a heroin addict on a speedball junkie in the Lower East Side, just in Rikers Island, and years living on the streets in prisons. She just had this really horrific, brutal early life and she ended up astonishingly getting clean and staying clean for 19 years. And her path to that was, of course, truth telling, which is the cure for addiction, not cured but treatment, Um, and and she embodied in this really remarkable way. And she had an adage and she was person the world. I was always most relaxed around because she only ever told the truth. She always knew where you were. You would never have to guess. And everyone in the room was safe because Ray was always telling the truth. But everyone bullshit. What else was going on there was, like, one center very like dense, gravitational, truth telling always happening. But the lion that she lived by and she she passed it to me. And now I live by it because I can't not is, um She used to say the truth has legs. It's the only thing What's gonna be left standing in the room At the end of the day, everything else will blow up. Everything else will disintegrate. Everything else will dissolve into drama. The truth is where you're going to end up inevitably. So since it's where we're gonna end up Why don't we just start with it and then save? Don't save the drama like Lett's now I get the time, start with it and thats like I've had I've repeated that with people so many times. I'm like, Why don't we just begin with it? You know, like created judgment free zone? Start with it and it saves your life because it saves like so much pain and agony and drama. If there's pain to be had, let's just do it now, Andi and and that's been transformative to me and actually has made me be a more relaxed person. I think when I was younger, I used to think, I can't tell the truth because the world isn't safe. It's not a safe place for the truth or for my truth. And now I've realized you make the world a safer place for you by telling the truth in it. That's how your world becomes. Safe is through your own honesty. When did you start that process? Um, like around the time he turned 30 because the first major truth that I had to tell the first truth that I didn't tell for a long time, and I didn't know how to tell and thought that birds would drop dead out of the sky and rivers will run backwards if I said it, Um was that I didn't want to be married anymore, and I didn't want to have a baby. And and I had gotten married very young at 24. And I had promised my then husband that when I was 30 I would settle down and stop being a traveler and have a baby and by house. And instead I lost my mind. 30 came. And that way I lost my mind because I couldn't. My what ended up happening And what will end up happening when you don't tell the truth is that your body will break down. My my physical body actually broke my mental health broke down in my physical health, broke down. Um, I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat. I lost £20 Like this is what not truth does to you. Until there was really I mean, you get to a place where it's like dire tell the truth, and I finally did, and, um, and instead of making me diet, brought me to life. Andi, he survived it. You know. And if I had fucking said it two years earlier, it would have been a much greater gift to him. A swell. I cost him two years of his life while I couldn't say those words. So that was my biggest lesson. And you're not doing anybody any favors by holding this in. Like if there's something that you know about yourself that if an intimate person in your life knew they would change their whole life, they should know like you're not doing them any favors by not telling them that the sooner you tell them that the sooner they have agency over their life again to figure out what they need to do now. And that's been a game changer. That's like a power pellet that just got for me. It's like, you know, it's intense, but it's like, you know, I think we a lot of times we lie and dissemble and manipulate, especially can Syrians like us because we're people pleasers. But when I actually discovered with the rial, what you should actually call a people pleaser is a people manipulator. Um, and that's what a people pleaser does is they manipulate people for their own safety. You know, they're not pleasing other people. They're keeping themselves perceived a safe and and and you're not doing the other person any favors. By doing that, they should know who they're talking to. We should know what's actually going on. What role does this play in creativity? Your big mansion? Your previous book? It's a lot about Fear opens about talking about how you were afraid of you Think you basically say you're afraid of every everything as a young person? Yeah, afraid of your parents? And was it your mom that eventually like, uh, like I think you're kicking the butter? She, like, never indulged my fear for a single minute shows like she's like, How did I get this kid was like terrified bundle of nerves is what I was born into. Um, truth telling and creativity. It's an interesting question. I haven't I haven't thought about that. I mean, I think, um, I was always a creative person. It was often an escape for me that it was it was a place to go and run to and hide. I'd like to my imagined worlds better than the real one, um, in school and It's like, well, at home. And, you know, I grew up on a farm. There was a lot of work to be done. My group with really pragmatic, responsible people is a lot of intense responsibility put on me from an early agent. So escaping into a dream world was way preferable to being here in this place, in this very cold farmhouse with a lot of chores and a lot of jobs, Um, and a lot of expectation that you should be able to know how to do everything already. Um, so for me, I think my early creativity was escaped. But I think, as you're saying, I'm just kind of spitballing is You're saying this, But I think people ask me all the time why eat, pray? Love was so successful, and I always say, I don't know, but it could be that it's It's a story of a woman learning how to tell the truth. Um, it's a story like that is what happens in the first pages of Eat. Pray. Love is that here is this woman sobbing on the bathroom floor for the 19th consecutive night in the middle of the night, unable to say the words I don't want to be married anymore. Who finally says those words on DNA? That is the beginning of like my actual adult life. So I think maybe that creative truth telling can be liberating for a lot of people, not just for the person doing it. Yeah, and does it for you. Did that truth telling Unlock a new world of possibilities, a new world of creativity and what do you feel like it unlocked, Like two years of highly medicated depression? Way is hard the way it's hard. I mean, like Joseph Campbell says, You have to give up the life that you plan to have, the one that's waiting for you. But when you give up the life you have planned and you don't know what's waiting for you, there's an interim where there's no ground under your feet. And I also love that the great great spiritual writer Stephen Mitchell and translator who's translated the bulk of the G two beautifully in the data Ching and who's a Zen practitioner himself. And he says, You know the way the great way um, involves this. First the rug gets pulled out from under you and Then the floor gets pulled out from under the rug, and then the ground gets pulled out from under the floor. And now you're getting somewhere. Now you now you're getting somewhere you're getting somewhere to the recognition that there is no ground. There is no ground, and that is the beginning. But but it's awful to feel that when you thought you had security and you thought you had something fixed. And then there's like who you're like, you know, Ah, Warner Brothers cartoon character running over a cliff and also like, you know, there's that thing, that yeah, and your friend and mine. Bernet and I have talked about how you know, we live in a culture that bandes around this very easy kind of ideas, like Jump on the net will catch you. But all of us know that we've jumped in and, like, broken 10 bones, you know, fast. Yeah, yeah, or or not even announced, left an imprint in the cement, you know, and we all know that there are, you know, this is a let's sure we come to this world because it's safe. Um, I'm not sure that it's meant to be particularly safe. Um, so I think I think we do a disservice when we try to inspire people by saying, Let's do it, man. Just go for it as if there's no consequences, no cost and no difficulty in that. And so I'm always really careful to say, Yeah, I said, It's gonna suck jump. And it sucked for two years now and then I slowly, slowly, excruciatingly, with a lot of help. Um found my way and and that's how it works. You know? What's the relationship between, uh, I was struck by something you just said. It made me think of vulnerability, because when you're you know, there's the floor there, you're going ahead. And if truth telling is truth telling a path to vulnerability with which is a path to something else or what's the relationship between, um because you have to be vulnerable to tell truth? Yeah. I mean, especially if you're telling the truth that you are afraid is going to hurt another person in your name path. I mean, that's the most devastating those air, the most devastating truths I've ever had to tell. And I am an impact, you know. So So I'm sitting with you in the pain I just brought to you because of the truth that I have to tell you That is the seventh circle of hell. Yeah, um, you know, And the only reason that I do it is because life and all of its grace has been kind enough to teach me through brutal lesson that the other, all the other ways they're worse. Like, this is the seventh circle of hell. But all the other things that aren't this are the eighth circle of how that there's no. It's like the domain of oblivion in which no one is no one. No one is safe. Um, and so there's a tremendous faith that has to come in believing that the rial is the right way, even if it doesn't look like it in this moment and And to stop arguing with reality and to figure out how are we gonna now live in accordance with reality? You know, um, this is the reality. So now how do we What are we gonna dio? Um, rather than let's pretend this isn't the reality. Let me take whatever drugs I have to take to pretend that this isn't the reality. You go do whatever you have to do to hide, to pretend that this isn't reality. And then let's just see where that leads. Andi, can't I? One thing I've discovered about myself is that's a grace, and it's horrible is it's happening. Might being my actual being will not allow me to stay in a situation where I'm out of my integrity anymore. I will get. I will break down mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually on Guy will be back on the bathroom floor and eventually I'll be beaten down to the point where I have to start telling. And I'm like I told you, I thought I did this already. I mean, that's the thing. Like, you think you did it once and you're done. But like life again in all her grace, it's like now I'm gonna give you another chance is a gift. Here's a gift. Now is another chance for you to be really brave. Um, to know that the only way out is through honesty. Do it again. Do it again. Do it again and it's getting easier. Honestly, because I trust it. Now, Um, I trusted you mentioned, uh, stepping into some of this truth telling, um, at the age of 30. Yeah. Uh, what role did Raya play in? Is this another? Like you went in a couple of the cycles that we just described between 30 and 46. Yeah. And and your experience with the partner that you loved dying from cancer. How did that was that you feel like you've finally learned. You know what it is that so she's the most important person of my history. Um, she was my great love of my life and also my great teacher and my great friend, um And she and the reason that I gravitated to her and and it took years for that to do their friends for we were friends for a long time. We're acquaintances for a long time. And then we became friends. And then we became dear friends. And then we became best friends. And then, for about 45 years there, I didn't even know what to call her. I just called her my person. Even though I was married and very loyal and faithful. My marriage This was my person, my person to me men who do I close? My first phone call in every emergency. Who's my first phone call when I need advice? Who's my first phone call when I want to celebrate? Who knows everything about me? You know, who do I feel? Who is the one personal world who I feel completely safe around? It was Raya and the panic, the existential panic and terror and horror that I experienced at her diagnosis. Knowing that that person where I mean, I can still feel my body, what it felt like for all those years when Ray would walk into a room and my whole body would relax because I would be like, raise here. It's all gonna be okay. She's got it because she was so tough and strong also, but so and so loving. She was in every room. Shiver walked into the strongest person in the room. And so I was. I just wanted to be around her so I could feel that safety and what I realized. I got this panic the first year of her illness. I had this urgent craving panic where I was like, I have to download you after download you because I don't know how to do life without you and I need to learn quickly. I have thought I had time to learn how to be like her, but I was like, I got I got to get it all in the now because no one else can. Yeah, I basically became an addict of like, wanting to shoot smoke what inhale, eat, like imbibe her. And what ended up happening is that as she got sicker and and as her terror, her own terror and fear grew, um, and she couldn't take care of me any more that way, Um, I had to become her to take care of her. Um, and and what I've realized, my beloved friend Martha Back said after Ryan died, What I've seen happen to you, too over the years is now she's braided into you and you have an essential DNA strand of Rayo. No, Andi, And that is the download. But its it didn't come the way I thought it was gonna come. It didn't come from her teaching it to me empirically. That came from me having to step up. That's what I said at her memorial service to cause she was. That role in a lot of people's lives are probably 10 people who would have said she was the most important person in their life that they couldn't live without. And I said, Well, what was what's now asked of us is that we all have to step up, and we all have to be that now, Um, and I find that I can truly say that I am, Yes. Your your what's looked from the outside as just this amazing courageous stepping into the sharing of the process was so powerful from where I was sitting. Uh, do you feel like that was part of your assignment? Is that like, the this process you're talking about leaving the strand of DNA through her for last weeks and months? That like, No. Is that that part of your assignment? Yeah. I mean, I think it's always been part of my assignment. Okay, maybe I think assignment is grandiose because I'm not sure I don't know how the universe works. I'm not sure you know what my assignment is, but I will say this. I will say that the moment that distance in time and space between the moment when I learned something that helps and saves me and how much time I can allow before I desperately want to put it out there in case somebody that day needs it. That's a very short time span for me. I'm and I feel it's that I have to and I don't feel like I have to necessarily out of responsibility to them, because again, I don't know if it's useful. I just know that it starts to hurt me to not share it. It actually feels like pain. I remember my guru in India used to say Any talent that you have that you do not use becomes pain. But I also think any wisdom and insight that you have that you do not share becomes pain. Why in the world would I not share it if I know so intimately what it's like to suffer? I know so intimately, intimately, deeply in my bones and skin what it's like to not know what to fucking dio you know. So if I have been given, like, one little glimmer of light, why in the world would I not be like you want this? E got something because I have been so helped by people who have been generous enough to learn in public. You know, I think learning in public It's such a generous thing for people to do because we look to it and were like Bernet learns in public, Glennon learns in public. Cheryl Strayed learns in public. My friend Rob Bell, Martha Beck. They're all brave enough to to learn in front of us so that we can maybe get something. There's a strong creative thread in a lot of the people that you just talked about, and I'm I'm still trying to connect. Maybe, um, poorly. But take connect creativity to that. And it is that a mechanism for teaching is like your ability to write your ability to write not just a novel or a nonfiction book, but on Instagram post. Is that your public teaching? Is this this, like, is art in your vehicle for teaching or what role? This was creative plan, that Yeah, I mean, I guess it is. I didn't plan it to be on your album. You can take that away. No, no, I didn't plan it to be like I did it cause I wanted to do it on. I still do it cause I want to do it and I still feel I still truly do not feel the slightest bit of responsibility to my readers of my followers at all. And that's why I'm so relaxed with them and why I love them. If I felt responsible to them, I think it would be really heavy on me and weirdly on them. But I feel like I don't feel responsibility to you guys. I didn't love you. I love you, but I don't feel slightest bit of responsibility, too. So that means that I get to do whatever I want creatively and that you, my readers, get to decide whether you want to come with me. Which is why I, like 12 million people, came with me free pray, love. But when I wrote my novel The Signature of All Things About 1/19 century botanical virgin who studies boss look, a couple 100,000 people came with me on that. But it's elective, you know what I mean? Like they they don't have to, and I don't have to write. You pray love again. You know, like everyone's free. That was part of 10 talking Brandon Street when I really realized that the most popular piece of work that you written may be behind you. Yeah, but stepping into whatever is next for you is has to be authentically you gotta be. I can't do that again. I don't know how did it the first time, you know. So so but the teaching came kind of after eat, pray, love where I felt like people. I think I think if you're called to be a teacher, you'll know because people will keep asking you stuff. Um And so that's what How simple. The definition of a teacher, right? Like, people will gravitate and be like, Hey, what do you think about this? You know, And at first I was really I was like, I am just a no. I'm just a dung girl who went through that. I can't Well, a little. But I feel like after a certain time, if people keep asking you something is really disingenuous to keep being lagoon. Oh, does bills It it, you know. Did you like that sound? Um, a good one. I think it's I think it's respectful to actually take a swing at the question, you know, and say like, I'll take a swing at it and If people ask me questions that are just beyond my pay grade, I'll send them elsewhere. Like if people ask me about how to work in the corporate world, I'll be like, Go, Dr Brennan. A. I've never had a job like I was a bartender, like, I have no idea if they asked me about parenting and like Lenin's right over here. You know eso I feel like we can. We all shuffle ourselves around to each other as well. Like, this is probably better question for you. What world did that? I want to go back to that fear part that you opened big magic with the the connection between creativity and fear for you And is that do you feel like that's common? Or is that like, Why did you write Big Magic? We're ripping magic, actually, because people kept asking me questions about creativity, especially after I gave that Ted talk. And and that is the one book that I could say that I honestly wrote precisely as a self help book, because it's the one subject where I feel like I actually know about this. Like I'm completely comfortable talking to you and giving you advice about creativity. I've been doing this my whole life, and I have a relationship with it That's a lot less tormented than most of the relationships that I see people having with creativity. So let me be an expert here, you know, like, let me put on an expert hat and actually say, Yeah, I'm a middle aged woman. I've been doing this long time. Let me tell you some stuff that I've learned. Um but but the fear peace is I think I think intensely sensitive people tend to experience fear and everything at a heightened level. I experience everything I experience love and passion and lust and sorrow and despair. And like, you know, I like drop something in my foot and I experience at a high level. It's all in opera around me, you know. So So So the fear is just part of that. But But my saving grace in the world and myself is that as afraid as I am and I am, I'm, like, 1% more curious than I am afraid like thank God. When they doled out all these traits to me, they gave me a dose of curiosity. That was just like all it has to be. Is this much bigger than fear? It doesn't have to be a lot bigger. It just has to be enough bigger that it's worth it to take the risk because you're more interested than you are scared. And that's why I think that my working definition of create creative living, not creativity and general, not meaning that you have toe do watercolors or taken Makram a class. If you want to live what I think of as a creative life, my definition of a creative life is any life where your decisions are routinely based more strongly on your curiosity than your fear. Every single day in all your rooms of your life on Ben, your life itself will become a work of art. And it doesn't matter what you make her producer lever influence. It's just that you will create a life that will be really interesting for you, which is a person who you want to keep the most entertaining. Imagine what he said. That you were very comfortable giving advice on creativity. Yeah, so knowing you know who's on the other side of these, uh, you know, were in their ears right now warning this video or listening to us without retracing on the steps of Big Magic 260 page book or whatever. What? What is the advice that you have people? Because there's a lot of folks out there who were stock are blocked or haven't started. There you go from 0 to 1, trying to figure it out for the for the beginning or their identify his creator. And the trend to go from 1 to mercy, I think, is the fundamental word that it's coming to me as a short answer to that question, Um, if you want to have a healthy engagement with creativity, if you want to have a healthy engagement with yourself, if you want to have a healthy engagement with others, mercy has to be at the foundation. Mercy for self mercy, for others, mercy for the inevitable disappointment that you're gonna feel when you make something and it's not what you wanted it to be. You know, my beloved friend and patch it. The novelist has this great way of describing this where, she says, like her favorite part of the creative process, is when she's in the dreaming state of it, and she gets to be alone with the idea for the novel and and it's follows her for years and she's thinking about it. It's growing in her head, and it's with her. When she's washing dishes, it's with her. When she's going through the car wash, it's with her. When she's somebody's wedding, she's just constantly got this look lovely dream and in her imagination, the thing that she's going to make. She describes it as a tor 1,000,000 butterfly like a butterfly made out of gems, that it catches the light so beautifully. It's so exquisite. It's so perfect. This is gonna be the one, all right, this is gonna be the one that when I make it, it's gonna I'm gonna actually achieve that like platonic ideal of the thing and it's gonna be so beautiful. And then she says, the worst part of the credit process is day one of making it, because what you have to do is to pluck the tourmaline butterfly out of the sky, put it on the desk, take a mallet and smash it into 1000 pieces and let it go because it can never exist and Then you make the approximation of your normally butterfly, which is made out of like like used chewing gum and baseball cards and like twigs like a tin can and like a hinge and you're like, Here's My Butterfly made, you know, it's like my I like I like I made it myself. Look, it's I did it, I did it. And I think the merciful artist, the merciful creator, the merciful human is the one who can say, You know, no one's ever made one like that. So on maybe there's a reason. But the boring thing would be, if all the if we all made terminally butterflies. The interesting thing is, truly no one's ever made one like that. And the mercy and the empathy towards yourself is what gets you. I always say that there's like on Day one, everyone starts Day one really excited about their project. Everyone on Day two looks at what they meant on Day one and hates themselves the only people who get to Day three or the people who have mercy so beyond anything else. Whether you're and that is going to be the same, whether you are a master or a beginner. Um, that is everyone's day three is what? That's where the rubber meets the road. You gonna keep going and keep disappointing yourself? Are you gonna stop? My suggestion is that you keep disappointing yourself and be very, very gracious toward yourself about it. Is that an aspect of bravery or is that curiosity or is it like compatibility, compassion, compassion, its compassion? Yeah. I mean, it's really the foundation of compassion which says, um, the in perfect is the perfect, you know, Im se more of that. That's a pretty well, I mean, in a way. It's like the end of the argument. It's the end of the argument against reality. You know, um, you know, the reality is you can't make you probably can't makes the thing in the way that you dream it. The end of the argument against the pain of that is so what make it anyway, make my like I'm gonna hatch my weird little steampunk barf, Y e. I don't know why didn't but the years show you since that is, that is, I think that putting yourself in alignment with reality rather than in a constant war against it, is is actually what compassion is. And that's also how you find compassion for the other, for the people in your life. Like instead of me needing you to constantly be an entirely different human being than you are, I can put myself in in compassionate alignment with the reality of what you are. I could put myself in compassionate alignment with the reality of what I am. I want to be 10 different things and what I am today. But this is what we're working with. This is what we got is what we got. Flap flap piece falls off. Well, this is what we got, you know? How do you do what you do right now? Because you're just like truth zingers? How, like, is it just repetition of the first time? It's harder the second time. It's 10% less hard time. It's or 1% less hard. I don't know if anybody realizes what percentage of my life I spend taking care of my mental health like that's my full time job and writing as a hobby that I do on the side. Every once in a while, I write book the rest of my life like an enormous percentage of my day is spent managing this neighborhood warring neighborhood. This, like, dysfunctional family that I carry inside of my mind. And I everything that I've learned that has any taste of wisdom and grace is from the front lines of this, you know? And I mean it like today. I mean, like, that's what I was doing on the plane today. Was managing my mental health today. Like their practices that I do every single day in order to keep myself happy and and loved and connected. And I do them, I have to save my life every single day because very few I have very few days off from trying to save my own life on it. So this is very immediate what I'm talking about. I'm not talking about Like what you have to dio. I'm talking about what I do on the way here. Yeah? What can you I have to ask? Yeah, what's the what are the things? And I understand. No, I don't mind talking about it because, like, look, if it helps Yeah. Um, there's a lot of the most important relationship that I have in my life is a dialogue that I launched 20 years ago between me and love capital. L love that I have continued nearly every day in my life over the last 20 years. And it came in the deepest depression where I mean, I want I was in that, like, deep God sized hole of just wanting somebody to comfort me, wanting somebody to save me, wanting somebody to make me feel safe and make me feel like it was okay. And I have beautiful people in my life but like no one. And I know this for fact because I have looked for no one can handle that in me. Nobody. Because sometimes people have to sleep. I have to get a sandwich on. They have to goto work. And I'm like, Wait, where you going? Like nobody. You have no idea how needy I am like and I do. And so at night this was a period in my life where I was alone. And so what I did was sit down in the middle of the night in my slough of despair, take out a notebook and this was this great leap of imagination. What would I What are the words that I've always wanted to hear somebody say, Can I say it to myself? And I started writing those words to me. I am right here. I have got you. I will always have you. You are precious unto me. I don't care if you stay depressed for the entire rest of your life. I still love you. I don't care if you never fix this. I don't care if you never get better. I don't care if you never created a care. We live in a box under a bridge. I am yours. You are mine. I have got you. You are my boo Like I was with you when you were born I will be with you till after you die I will never leave you. You are mine The longing imprint Belonging Love, love ownership forever You can't tire me out You can't tire me out. We can do this all night. I will. You will get tired before I do. I love you so much. This is what I've always wanted to hear another human beings. And it's a little much to ask on dso I've learned to bring it and and when I when I figured out what that voice is. It's love. It's it's universal human love. And and that is the most important relationship in my entire life. And I write a letter to myself from that every single day. Is that the number one vehicle writing yourself that love letters? Apple? Yeah. And lots of times is dialogue. You know, um and And the dialogue will go like me to be, like, hysterical. I don't know to do. It's all falling apart. I'm I failed again. I've lost again. I'm unlovable. I'm untenable. I'm unmanageable. I'm back at zero. Help! Help! Help! Help! Help and loves, Like always says exactly. Same thing always begins with. I'm right here. I'm right here. Right here, right here. I'm with you. I'm not going anywhere. I've got you. And then I will say, What should I do? And love will say, I don't know. That's not my department. I just love you. And then I will say, Tell me how this is going to end and level. Say I have no access to that information. But I will be with you through it, whatever it is. And then I say, if you can't tell me what to do. And you can't tell me how this is gonna end. What the fuck use are you? And love says I am company for you in your darkest hour and I always will be. That is nice. That's what I'm here for. And then I can begin to breathe. What? Getting to breathe. And I don't know whether that thing that voice is God talking to me. Rayo talking through me angels on my shoulder, my heightened imagination that creates in its own trauma the thing it needs. I don't care. It works, It works, doesn't matter. It works. And I've learned by being able to hold myself that way I can also be not with anyone. But I can be in the room with almost anyone at this point because I can just be like, I don't care if you ever sort this out your wreck. But I'm right here and they're like, What do I do? I'm like, I don't know, but I will be with you. I'll just be love in the room with you. And if they're like it doesn't help, I'm like, Well, okay, but I'm here. I'll just sit here, you know, what I mean like thing. A bad that I've learned about love capital. L love about that over the years. Is that love? Real love doesn't need anything in the room to be different than it is. Doesn't need anything to be different than it is. It never says. Here's what you have to go do now Here's how you have to change. Here's how you have to grow, doesn't need it. Doesn't need it way more powerful. Yeah, it's like you just you just keep doing this and I'm just right here. I got you And that's that is how I have survived my life. Is the manifestation always writing. Are there any other tools that use? Writing is the thing. You know, I think it's the most direct for me. I can't. It slows the mind down. You know, most of us, all of us. We have minds that move it just the speed of light, literally or more. Now I guess nothing's bathroom that thoughts move really, really, really, really fast, so writing slows it so I can bring my panic to the page and say, I have this deliberate question. Help and then love will say I got um, right here. It's okay. It's gonna be right. It's gonna be right. Even though it's not even if it's not, it's gonna be alright. Don't you mentioned being on the plane? Were you writing to yourself on the Yeah. I mean, I'm not kidding when I say do this every day. Thes foundational practices are. That's a really common thread in greatness and creativity. And there's a self care that I think it's a It's a complete myth, this sort of horrified artists who is trying to dive into that in an unhealthy way, that healthy way of trying to manage that you're talking about? Yeah, I have no interest in being a tormented artists are tormented person. I often am one, but when I am, I will do anything I can to help myself get out of it as fast as I can or to reach to somebody who can help me. I mean, I will. I will. Relentlessly, you know, this is one of the things that love says to me All the time is I will make sure you get whatever you need. Whatever care you need, we will make sure you get it we will make sure you get it. Starting tomorrow. I read a thing that you scrapped an entire novel. Well, it wasn't a novel, it was a memoir. But I did. Yeah. Um, yeah. The city was like, Why would you do that? It was the book that came after eat, pray, love. And it was like torment. It was just so tortured because it was so self conscious because I was like, I'm the author of Red Eat Pray, love Now boo. Like I just had no natural voice in it. And it was just strangled, like every sentence felt really strangled. And and I put it, I mean, it wasn't an easy thing. It made me like. I wept and wept when I realized that I was so off. And I also realized this is not worth even trying to save. And it was a very by a painful truth telling moment to my publishers to say, Guess where I have for you nothing. And you can't see what I've done. And I can't tell you when I'm gonna have something and I don't know what if ever And then he spent the next year gardening. Um, and without a plan and just like faith, I'm just gonna do something else. Now I'm just gonna plant things I don't know. And it wasn't like I'm gonna do this and then I'll have a great idea. It was like I was gonna do this thesis fun water plant, watch it grow. This is very fundamental. It's a lot easier than writing a book, literally grounding, getting your hands in the dirt, You know, on Ben, like by the end of that season of the garden like inspiration started, come back and I found it. And I didn't know. I would just you have to believe Yes. Yeah, yeah. How do you know the work to do when you don't know what work to do something else just like it's over there. You run their something else, and I would suggest doing something with your hands. Um, you know, we're worrying our heads so much and most of us, at this moment in history, we're so disconnected from our bodies and from the world. And we really do think of our bodies is like of room stick that we carry a jar with a brain in it around on. You know. And so I would say anything that you could do to embody work, whether it's exercise or to make something that I love. That story. There's this author Clive Clive James. It's British. Often I tell this story in big Magic. He had an enormous failure. Where he took bank literally bankrupted his family, too. To produce a play that ill advisedly was a play that mocked every single literary person in London living at that time who are all his friends. So he lost all his money and he lost all his friends and it was terrible. Didn't see this coming. No, because he was like he was like, that cool guy who everything he touched turned to gold, and he thought it was really funny. And it was actually just rancid. And he fell into a severe depression for months and couldn't even get off the couch. And then one day his little daughter came in and said, Daddy E, I want a bicycle and they went, bought a bicycle for but didn't have any money. So you buy this junkie bicycle. She was embarrassed to ride it around, and so he said he would fix it up for. So he fixed. It happened. He ended up getting all the rust off it and painting it Midnight blue. And then he got this other little tiny paintbrush and he painted thousands of tiny stars on it like it was Merlin's cloak, and she rode off on it. In the next day, another little girl, the neighborhood, came up and said, Can you paint my bicycle the same what you did with your daughters? And then Then there was a line of kids asking him to paint their bicycles. And he did that for weeks. And then he was like, You know what? I figured out what I'm supposed to do with my life. I'm supposed to paint bicycles with my life and he just relaxed. And then the next day he had an idea for a novel. Theo, the answer is, Go pay bicycles. Just do something else, walk away, walk away from the thing that's not working and do something mindless and satisfying. Can I confess something? Yeah. When we leave here, I'm also I'm stuck creatively right now working on a couple of things and stuck. I'm going to go power wash my friends drive hot. It's the best. It's like It's literally It's a medicine that's great. And you see progress. Yes, and it's like it's It's hypnotic progress. Yes, it's so embarrassing. I would suggest going around the neighborhood and power washing everybody's driveways for a while. Why stop with your friend? Just do that for the summer. I guarantee you something great will come out of it. The that guy. Just be that guy. So embarrassing, because it it'll drop you out of the drama and into the present. And that's when the ideas I borrowed the pressure washer for my dad had to go get special gas before this, our conversation so that I can go do this. I'm so jealous. I've called friends at times and been like, Can I come in, clean out your closets and organize your kitchen? Having trouble writing eso? Yeah, something else. Perfect. You got it. You get it's all gonna be all right. Awesome. Thank you very, very much yourself. Now that's congrats on the new book. Your It's It's so inspirational to read. It's so timely. It's a powerful piece of work. Thank you. Thank you for having me on the show. I'm looking for? I haven't finished the book. I wanted to sit with you first body spoil it for you? Yeah, I was worried I didn't want to go there, so I spoke to at home. Uh, check out city girls. Thank you. Someone should be investment show. Really, really appreciate it. You're welcome. I loved it. Alright again? Probably hopefully.