This quotation has remained with me over many years since I first came across it as a teenager. I was reminded of it again today while listening to a podcast of Elizabeth Gilbert speaking with Jonathan Fields for his Good Life Project. She spoke about creative acts that are original versus those that are authentic. I was struck by this distinction, as we often think of projects that dazzle us with their genius, technical facility, and craft as being the show-stoppers. These are the works we stand back from in wonder and say, “Wow, that’s amazing.” We admire them. But do we remember them? Do they move us? Work can fall flat if it is not accompanied by heart. I would rather see something that embodied a searching curiosity, a process, and a striving than something that was mere display. Staid. You remember the ones that move you, that cause a tremble in your soul, that furnish nutrients to universal soil. I want more of THAT in my life. And thus, conversely, others want more of that from me.
Displaying my authentic voice has been something that I struggle with daily. What is the most heartfelt, true articulation of who I am? How does it manifest in the world? If I am in a healthy state of mind, it first starts with gratitude. I am thankful that I have the ability to express myself at all, given the odds stacked against me. I can read, am educated, well-fed, and I have a stable roof over my head. I do not live in constant fear and uncertainty - that puts me ahead of most of the world. So what do I do with this privilege? How and where and with whom do I feel the wonder of the world? Where does it come from in me?
When I feel like I don’t stack up against those I admire, I remember: courage.