Friday, February 20, 2009

Found Stuff Friday: Elizabeth Gilbert's TED Talk, Your Elusive Creative Genius

I am indebted to my dear friend Stephen for making me aware of this brilliant talk from the recent TED Conference by Elizabeth Gilbert author of Eat Pray Love. This talk has proved very influential to me. 

She addresses the debilitating psychological stress caused by the way we look at creativity and talent in western culture.
You've probably felt it too: Fear and uncertainty, periods of feverish yet fruitless work, depression, the self-defeating cycle of not finishing (or starting!) things lest you fail... I've felt it anyway.

Elizabeth Gilbert's solution borrowed from other cultures, is to make a distinction between the person creating and the gift of the creation and inspiration. I know from experience that this works, although I forget at times.
In design school there was a terrible pressure to succeed that showed, often, in how terrified the more driven of us were of others, and the despair a little healthy opposition brought. The terror looked like hauteur or contempt, because that's how scared we were. Without a doubt, the talent was intense, but there is so much urgency to be a huge success when you are young. There is no "if at first you don't succeed try, try again." It's sink or swim.
I hope I am learning to live in a larger grace, to give myself and other people chances along the way. Let's abandon the make-or-break mentality in favor of building on mature experience.
We can find so much freedom when we view inspiration as a gift bestowed by God rather than a finicky and difficult inner genius to appease.

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