Frank Phillips Library Columns

Be All That You Can Be? by Frank Phillips

by Frank Phillips
by Frank Phillips

As our time on earth progresses, the voices of self-examination and woulda, coulda, shoulda become louder and more frequent. Why is that? Basically we can chalk it up to the human need for approval, even if it is us approving of us. In this sense we seek personal approval for the things we have accomplished and perhaps a sense of forgiveness for those things we have not. The truth of the matter is that this form of analysis can serve as a springboard to identify our areas of personal creativity that may as yet be untapped and or not fully channeled. How many of the 7 year old boys you went to school with actually became firemen, policemen, or airline pilots? Our lives unfold like a highway, straight for a while, an ease to the left, a hard turn to the right. We adapt, stay on the road, grow up, develop skills and knowledge, raise and support a family, and live our lives as best we can. As we pass through the rooms of our lives we sharpen our schedules to carve out sufficient time for things that can generally be referred to as hobbies. A hobby by definition is “activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure.” Our hobbies often manifest an activity that circumstances permitting would have become and could have become our vocation rather than our avocation. Instead we find time to engage in these pleasurable experiences as a way of adding a modicum balance to our daily lives. What if we put our fears aside, fear of failure and fear of not accomplishing our goals, and most of all the fear of unleashing the untapped creativity that resides in all of us? A recently published book, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert explores this premise. Here the author of Eat, Pray, Love urges the reader to live life creatively that is “living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” The reader is challenged to have the “courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you.” Willa Paskin in her September 16, 2015 New York Times Sunday Book Review of Big Magic relates “In broad strokes, Big Magic constitutes good advice. Find some time in your life to do something you really enjoy, for no reason other than you really enjoy it.” The book is currently available in the Heartland Library Cooperative system.

Using the premise of Big Magic as motivation, we may wish to examine ourselves for those hidden curiosities Big Magicand or fears. Let’s say you have always wanted to paint. Be it acrylic, oil, or watercolor, the thought of placing color on canvas in the form of something known to man has personally appealed to you. The appeal is not with hope of being shown and feted someday in the Louvre, but rather displaying your finished effort for an audience of one and being able to say, “I did that.” The old adage of the journey rather than the destination being of greater import applies here. The act of doing it may even transcend having done it. Perhaps other areas of the “arts” have held an attraction for you, if so go for it! Perhaps your cloistered curiosity extends beyond the “arts.” Learning to skate, sail, fish, golf, build and a myriad of other activities are available to us if we put away our apprehensions and follow our curious minds and hearts. There is no opportunity for failure here, the only failure is in not trying.

Your local Heartland Library Cooperative outlet can assist your efforts in this pursuit. Hundreds upon hundreds of books on any and all activities are available to you in the Non-Fiction section of the libraries. Your online or in house search of the subject can quickly identify the reference just right for you. Library staff is available to assist your search if needed. Most likely the biggest challenge will be to decide on which book or books to take with you as you begin your efforts.

Another excerpt from Big Magic seems suitable for closing: “Creativity is inside all of us, it should be expressed, and it is not selfish or crazy or foolish to do so – it is, in fact, the best way to live a satisfying life.”