This weeks illustration is about a story told in the book ‘Big Magic’ by Elisabeth Gilbert. Last week this book popped up twice in conversations I had with other entrepreneurs and especially this story. It was one that intrigued me and made me happy when reading the book about a half year ago. ‘Big magic’ is a book about living a creative life beyond fear. It is funny, infectious and full of advice on how to live a creative life. I really enjoyed reading it and learned a lot. Let me try to tell this story – for which I made this illustration – to you, using my own words (and quoting sometimes.)
There was this young, American artist who went to France to study and paint. He put himself out there, showing his art to anyone who would like to hear his story. One day he happened to meet a group of French people who invited him to a party that weekend. The party would be in a castle, since they turned out to be aristocrats, and it would be a masquerade ball, so dressing up was necessary. The young artist worked all week on a costume, putting a lot of effort and money into it. That weekend he drove up to the castle and changed into his costume in the car. He walked up the stairs, gave his name to the butler and stepped into the ballroom. Then he realized he had missed an essential part of the translation of ‘dressed up party.’ It was indeed a dress up party, but the theme was ‘a medieval court’ and he was dressed up as a lobster.
All around him were the most wealthy and important people of France, waltzing in gowns and period clothing. He, the only American in the room, was wearing red tights and huge red foam claws. He had also painted his face red. He stood still and thought about running away, since he felt embarrassed. But he did not run. He had come this far, he had worked so hard on his costume and he was proud of it. So he took a deep breath and stepped into the ballroom. As he moved on, people stopped dancing and the music stopped playing. Finally someone asked ‘what are you?’ And he replied ‘I am the court lobster’ They laughed, “no ridicule, just joy. They loved him. They loved his sweetness, his weirdness, his giant red claws, his skinny ass in bright spandex tights. He was the trickster among them, so he made the party” He even ended up dancing with the queen of Belgium, so the story goes.
Reading this story you can imagine what it felt like, how ashamed you might feel and what an effort it took to step out there and stay. But, as Gilbert says, “you must stubbornly walk into that room, regardless, and you must hold your head high. […] You did your best with what you knew, and you worked with what you had, in the time that you were given. You were invited, and you showed up, and you simply cannot do more than that. They might throw you out – but then again, they might not.[…] What you absolutely must not do is turn around and walk out. Otherwise, you will miss the party, and that would be a pity, because – please believe me – we did not come all this great distance, and make all this great effort, only to miss the party at the last moment.”
Why did this story pop up the last few weeks? Because for me it is a reminder to add some trickster energy, be playful, to lighten up, to trust and to try things and see where you will end up. It feels good to work in this way and it reminds me why I love to live a creative life, because I do. I love to make beautiful things; playful and wonderful.
To remind myself of this energy I have made this illustration. It is easy to get caught up in things, the things you think you have to do, and forget about why and how you want to do it. I will print this illustration and put it above my desk, as a happy reminder. And I just might write another blog on trickster energy later, since this one is so long already. Hope you enjoyed it! If you want to read the book ‘big magic’, you can find some more information about it here.
Week 40 – October 2nd – October 8th