When is the last time you had a great idea, but lost it in the hustle and bustle of the day? We say no to so many ideas, some of us forget how to say yes — but that’s when ideas take flight. Ideas take flight when we say yes, when we chase after them and learn all that we can, then put them out into the world in their full glory as we understand it. At least, that’s what I have learned from my most recent favorite book: Big Magic.
It’s pretty frequent that I fall in love with a book. The shelves in my own home are nowhere near sufficient for the amount of knowledge I wish to store in my own head, so I dive into the stores of wisdom in local libraries as well, and used book stores, and the AMAZING online library service that is Overdrive. Alliance.overdrive.com allows access to books by partnering with sites like Amazon to get audio and e-books on loan, and if you like them you can purchase them! My favorite book from this last week was Big Magic, which my mom and I listened to / read along with on the way to Colorado!
Big magic focused on not only how creativity works, but how ideas come and go. From her own stories of being a scared child before she came to know and love the big magic that is creativity, the origin of the idea of “genius,” the entire book is attention-grabbing and leads the reader (or listener) through a journey to discovering their own little ideas, their own genius. This is a book I intend to add to my shelves — one not only full of good thoughts, wisdom, and a few giggles, but worth reading over and over again.
The biggest takeaway I have is Gilbert’s view on ideas as not merely figments of an individual mind, but little independent packets of thought that come and go from people as they please. How many times have you had an incredible idea for a project, only to run around your day as usual and, when you finally sit down to get it out of your system, the spark is gone? The way Big Magic describes it, ideas are almost like little photons of light traveling through the universe, never really disappearing, but moving from place to place. Ideas choose people as they wish, and leave people as they wish when that person is not putting them out into the open world quickly enough. So that’s why my grandma had the idea for disposable diapers before they existed! My sister thought of Inside Out about 7 years before the movie was released, another relative thought up Ziploc bags, and my mom thought of Blueprint Registry before that was a thing. Although I’m not totally sure I’m ready to think of ideas as entirely independent entities — that is some pretty big magic, after all — it is certainly a helpful and fun way to think about them!
While listening to this book, I even had a few of my own ideas take flight. There were little ideas for books, posts, articles, art projects, and even a course or two! Things I had thought about doing, but that had quickly been pushed aside because of other more pressing pursuits. The ideas then left me, at least for a while, but are now coming back in full color. Big Magic helped me find my own ideas again, and now I know exactly how to search for more should they ever leave me. In the meantime, I have entered into a mental contract with each that binds them to me. For some, this means writing a page of material a day for whatever it will end up being. For other projects, it’s an hour on the weekends spent pondering and producing. Each idea is different just like each person is different, which is part of what makes them so fun to chase! Each has it’s own character traits, good and bad, and each one gives you the chance to say yes, I want you in my life, or no, go away.
When was the last time you said yes to an idea? I think that is part of why so many capable people, full of potential, lead such relatively dull lives. From a young age, we are good at saying no to things — there’s proof in every toddler’s innate joy at screeching “no!” — but over time we lose our vigor for saying yes. Instead of jumping into new ideas and chasing them like a game in summer, we turn them away in favor of… what, paperwork? Boredom? Exhaustion?
Today, make your life a little more extraordinary. Say yes to an idea, latch onto it, create a little contract with it, and see where it leads you! I can’t wait to see what you create!