Week 4 - Back on the Horse
WEEK 4 - BACK ON THE HORSE
I connect so deeply with Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing because of her relatability.
As artists our job is to represent humanity. To tell the stories of the human experience.
Liz says she talks and writes about fear because she has so much of it.
I encourage you, and other artists to go after and believe in themselves and their dreams because that is a message I deeply need constant reminding and encouraging of myself. And the more time we spend in this business, the more rejections and hits we take, the more we need it.
Creative Living is NOT easy street.
Actually being asleep, staying in the lane of the simple unactivated life would be much easier. But it isn’t why we are here. And it’s empty compared to the exhilaration and joy of really going for something, whether we ever get “there” or not.
So on the path of creative living there are a lot of road blocks, pot holes and near death accidents. None of these mean you are doing something wrong. All of these mean you are living your creative life.
Liz describes in Big Magic how she was such a fearful little girl and was blessed with a mother who was always pushing her through her fears off the proverbial deep end. She describes that whatever she was afraid to do, her mother would insist that is exactly what she should do. What she must do. And that process although terrifying created the Liz Gilbert we know and love today. The artist who faces her fear and then writes about it for us to be empowered that we too can do the same.
I remember my moment of this.
I was in college and driving home from school, in east coast Canada, in a snowstorm. I hit a patch of black ice and my car began to fishtail across the road. I was moving fast down a hill into oncoming traffic. There is a moment with a car accident where you try desperately to control the car and get it back on track. Then there is the moment when you realize it is bigger than you and you surrender completely to the force of the experience and brace for impact. You hold your breath and let yourself crash.
When I finally opened my eyes the car had stopped. I hit a guard rail which saved me from going over the ledge and into the river on the side of the highway. Everything was quiet. I could barely hear myself breathe. Next thing I know I hear a gentle tap on my windshield and a man in standing outside my car checking to see if I was ok. I didn’t know yet if I was.
The police came and took me home. I remember having a hot bath and sobbing — my body finally beginning to process the immense amount of fear and terror. I put on my big pink bathrobe and sat on my couch shaking. And the phone rang.
It was my dad. I cried to dad like a five year old girl and he listened and said as long as I was okay, the car didn’t matter. Only that I was safe.
Then dad said this....
“I am off work at 5. Get in the truck and come pick me up.”
DAD!!!!!!!! WHAT THE F*#CK????
I was just almost KILLED! You can’t expect me to get behind the wheel again????!!!!! What is wrong with you???!!! How you no compassion???!!!!
Dad sweetly said, “I will be finished work at 5. See you then.”
So I am now thinking my dad is a sociopath. I sobbed.
“I can’t do it.”
“I can’t do it.”
“I can’t do it.”
F#*ck it is 4:30 pm. I have to go. I have to.
I got behind the wheel, hands trembling so badly I could barely control them. I put on my seatbelt and pulled at a snails pace out of the driveway.
It took me over an hour to get to my dad.
I was driving drastically below the speed limit.
I cried the whole way.
I got to dad’s work and slid into the passengers side crying my eyes out ready to tell my dad what an asshole he was.
Dad got in the driver’s seat and said, “I’m proud of you Nuby" (pet name — don’t ask) “You got back on the horse, and now you know you are bigger than your fear.”
And he was right.
I drove cautiously for months after that. But I drove. I kept driving. And that was the point.
We spend so much time as Liz describes, “defending our weaknesses” we lose our ability to know ourselves in our strength.
Positive Psychology says that most people spend their time trying to improve upon their weaknesses rather than expand upon their strengths. If you are always focused on
your weaknesses, yes, over time perhaps they will grow into strengths or be transcended, but in the meantime all your strengths are left uncared for and not tended to! Instead you could dedicate to growing your strengths and magically watch as your weaknesses improve along side :)
I could have justified my fear. I could have stayed away from driving.
But then I would have been identifying myself as my fear, not as my fierceness. We all have the same choice every day.
After a “bad” audition do we want to avoid that process or move more deeply into intimacy with it?
After a “hurtful” relationship do we want to protect ourselves from ever being hurt that way again or do we want to be open to bigger and better love then we every imagined?
The horse you are afraid of, is the one here to teach you your magnitude. You just have to get back on.
Where have you been thrown off?
Where is there a calling to get back on?
Where have you been defending your weaknesses instead of honing your strengths?
Liz says, “if we argue for our limitations we get to keep them.” Let’s argue for our magnitude this week....