A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hearing Liz Gilbert speak at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco. It was a conversation guided by Lisa Congdon, a fine print and graphic artist. As I post more quotes and selections from her talk, I'll be tagging them all under Elizabeth Gilbert for easy finding.
We live in a culture that really celebrates fearlessness.
All the language around fear is this very Navy Seal kind of like 'Kick fear in the ass! Punch it in the face! Show it who's boss!' It so violent. And I know that anything in my life that I have ever fought, has fought me back. Anything.
Anyone, anything that I've ever fought - it's like a rule - you punch and you get punched right back. Anytime I've ever tried to punch out fear, it roars up and reminds me quite thoroughly that it's stronger than me. And so, with fear, I approach it as a befriending.
The difference between fearlessness and courage is fearlessness is "I feel nothing." And courage is "I feel everything and I'm doing this anyway."
At this point, fear for me is an emotion where I'm like, "Hello old friend, you again? Come in, have a seat!" I just let it be there in the room.
I allow myself to recognize that the reason it's there is because evolutionary development taught us that anything that is unknown might kill us. And creativity is always unknown. So anytime you embark on any creativity, you're entering into a landscape where you do not know how it's going to end. Your fear thinks, this literally means we're all going to die in a blood bath. You could be writing a poem and your fear is like "We're going to DIE!"
And so there's a lot of tenderness that I have towards fear. I say to it, "just some trying some free verse. So far no one's died from this." But it doesn't know what it is, and so it just gets freaked out. What it needs is to be included and loved, and not fought.