Be the Trickster

Be the Trickster

In her beautiful book Big Magic, author Elizabeth Gilbert mentions that one should try to be the trickster, the jester or the fool. We should not take ourselves so seriously all the time.

This follows on the message of her popular Ted Talk, where she spoke of the trope of the tortured creative genius who has to suffer for their art.

There is another way to be creative that does not make a fetish out of suffering. There is an older way, a richer way, a more generative way — the way human beings had been making art for about 30,000 years before Europeans started taking things all too seriously.

This is the path of playful collaboration with the mysteries of inspiration. This is the path that says you are neither the slave to your muse, nor its master — but that you are its partner, and that the two of you (artistic mystery and you) can delight in each other.

This is the path that says creativity is a weird but never-boring dance, and that you are allowed to actually enjoy it regardless of how it turns out. This is the path that focuses more on the wonderful strangeness of the process and less on the result. This is the path that does not worship suffering and torment, and does not respect the reality police who say that life is nothing but a grim march of pain.

This is the path of the trickster, not the martyr. The trickster (represented forever in world mythology as the fox, the crow, the coyote, the monkey) sees through our delusions of seriousness and exposes the play underneath all our drama. The trickster says, “You are welcome to die for your cause if you really want to, but I’m not here to spend my life suffering.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

I think this is a beautiful concept that stretches further than just creativity. We seriously need to laugh at ourselves more. As if we’re all going to die one day.

Check out another 12 things you can learn from Big Magic.


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