To say Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love” changed my life ten years ago is an understatement. It was the last year of my doctoral program, and I was working crazy to support myself while trying to finish my dissertation. In the meantime, getting that degree meant that I would not be able to work on campus as a research assistant, which implied that I would be unemployed. I was so uncertain as to where I would be going. The guy I was dating at the time wasn’t sure about our future, and I wasn’t sure if I should bank my future based on a guy’s indecisiveness.
“I lost the appetite of my life” was the sentence stuck with me in “Eat, Pray, Love” since then. I was stunned when reading this sentence because that was how I felt at the time. Her courage to go on a journey to find herself again, in spite of “not being responsible” in many people’s eyes, opened my eyes.
So, when the “Big Magic” came out, I had to read it. The “Big Magic” podcast is my entry into the podcast world.
You do not need to be an artist to listen to this podcast. You do not need to do something creative to listen to this podcast. I found myself getting inspired to live my life creatively and genuinely after hearing to the two seasons of this podcast.
I highly recommended you to listen to this podcast from the very episode because I got so much out of every episode. Each episode, she would interview a reader who talked about their difficulties with their creative process and Elizabeth would give the reader her opinions and homework to work through the challenges. Then, in the next episode, she interviewed another artist to talk about the reader’s issue and to give the advises and suggestions.
This specific episode is the one left the most significant mark for me. In this episode, Ms. Gilbert interviewed Pastor Rob Bell to help one of her reader who works in the call center, “the world’s most boring job.” In the episode, the reader talked about how boring her life was, and her real passion was to write.
(Listen to the podcast before you continue.)
My takeaway from this episode is “discipline” and “here and now.”
I was shocked and felt guilty when Ms. Gilber said: “A bored person is also boring. An interesting person also interested.” I had to ask myself:
How many times when I complained about feeling bored?
Do I give myself a chance to be interested in different things and to pay attention to different things in my life?
Do I take things for granted and that’s why I felt bored?
“Discipline” is a spiritual practice. The boring and repetitive thing can break down your ego to help you pay attention to the details. If you can pay attention to the present beauty with little things, you can see the beauty of life.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
This statement so touched me and started to practice this idea. So, I run almost every morning on the same path in my neighborhood. I began to pay attention to the details of the houses, the changes in the season and one morning, I saw two big rabbits with four little bunnies. It was such a surprise from such a simple thing, but I never thought about it before.
I also started to pay attention to some clients whom I have worked for a long time. From the same issues they described to me on a weekly basis, I tried to remind myself to hear the nuances that I didn’t pay attention before. Somehow, I had some significant breakthrough with some of the clients.
In the podcast last week, Ms. Nely Galan mentioned the idea of completion. She pointed out that when we completed something that we set up to do, the sense of “completion” gives you a sense of pride and self-esteem. The feeling of “completion” is in your power and control to achieve, and you don’t need to wait for anyone to give you.
Discipline is the same thing. No matter how tedious or how mundane a task can be, when we set up to do it and to complete it while paying attention to the nuances of the process, it brings so much joy and accomplishment that we don’t expect to have.
“Here and Now”
“Your life is not happening someplace else. Your life is here, not somewhere else.” ~ Pastor Rob Bell.
“Your life isn’t on hold until your dreams come true. You are still alive right now. The action is here, right now.” ~ Elizabeth Gilbert
I still remembered the first day of my 12th grade. It was the day that all the high school students in Taiwan knew that the countdown of the college entrance exam started now. My history teacher wrote “364” on the blackboard and began to draw a timeline. At the end of the calendar, she listed everything we had to remember about the human history (5000 years of the Chinese History and 5000 years of the Western History, which means ten textbooks) in the coming year. We already went through 8 books, and therefore, we had to learn information from the two new books while reviewing those eight books (mostly, everything before the 20th century). She asked us to think about the 7/2 next year and started to break down 5000 years into the next 12 month.
I still remembered that moment as if it was yesterday. Why? That exercise from my history teacher has helped me get through all the finals in the college, graduate school, and doctoral program as well as the process of writing my dissertation.
I also learned the definition of living in the here and now while holding a vision for the future.
If I am training for a half-marathon, I have to break down the training on a monthly basis, on a weekly basis, and to the daily practice.
The vision of your life is not going to happen on its own. It is the discipline I put on myself on the daily basis that will lead me there.
When Pastor Rob Bell and Ms. Gilbert started to talk about “the action is now,” it resonates with me so well. How often do we vision our future and wait for that to happen? How often do we complaints about the current boring life and upset at the future dream couldn’t have come earlier? However, if we don’t take action now, the goal is never going to arrive tomorrow.
I am forever thankful to my high school history teacher who taught me that lesson 30 years ago. I am sorry if you are not as lucky as I am to have a teacher who taught me this lesson. I hope this episode between Elizabeth Gilbert and Pastor Rob Bell will inspire you to start living your life here and now with a curious and discipline.