I watched a speech a couple days ago that I found online by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert. She spoke on creative people and how it is that they come to create amazing works; be it songs, paintings, books, or dances. Artists, once creating something unique and unmistakably remarkable, are expected to repeat that level of art over and over again, being hailed as geniuses. Artists are held to unrealistic expectations once we are seen as amazing. It is unacceptable to be less than you just were, once were. Gilbert attributes this level of expectation and stress to the predisposition artists seem to have toward unstable emotional activity, such as alcoholism, drug use, depression and suicide. Instead of thinking of our art as something that comes directly from us and worrying over whether or not we can outdo ourselves again, Gilbert suggest something very easy. Its simplicity struck me like a dream I could barely remember. It was so familiar to me, yet I could not remember being aware of the details or having a clear picture to identify it.
Her suggestion, simply put, was this: stop giving yourself all the credit. Adopt for a moment the idea that instead of someone being a genius they have a Genius. The inspiration comes from outside yourself; making you not completely responsible if it fails and not completely credible if it soars. We are all vessels to our genius. I find this idea so intriguing. I know that my Genius comes from God, so this idea, when thought about in rational, practical terms of wanting to create something amazing and wanting to succeed at what I love, pushes me to desire a closer connection with God so that I am always open and ready for my Genius to strike.
This is not a brand new concept to anyone; being given inspiration from outside ourselves. But focus on it for a minute. Have you ever taken it seriously and not just as a novel concept or theory? Have you ever disconnected yourself from your creations? I let it sink in and it is changing the way I work, the way I think. Like Gilbert says, I will show up and do my part. I will work and create the best I know how and wait for my Genius to do its part in the song, the poem, the story, the drawing… I will make a beautiful piece of my own, on its own, and pray my Genius lights it up and makes it just that. Genius.