Some of my fondest childhood memories involve going on a hunt.
My idea of hunting did not involve weapons or animals. Rather, it was a quest for some hidden object.
I can vividly recall loading up the truck with my grandpa and cousins to hunt for morel mushrooms buried deep within Illinois woodlands in the spring. I also remember countless family Easter eggs hunts, where kids clamored for eggs tucked away in the most crazy-to-get-to places by ornery dads and uncles.
As I grew older, I would accompany my mom to Saturday morning yard sales in an endless search for possible treasures hidden amidst the piles of goods. The excitement of the hunt escalated as a teenager with games of Capture the Flag during pitch-black evenings at summer camp, searching with flashlights for the covert flag with giggling friends.
When the hunt inevitably came to an end, I recall it being a bittersweet time. We had found the “prize” but, truth be told, the thrill of the hunt was what I most cherished.
Why? Because of the people who I was privileged to share the journey with. You never knew where you might go or what you might find. With adventure lurking around every corner, anticipation and adrenaline seemed to be an adhesive that bonded us together.
Looking back, I realize that these hunting experiences helped me learn a little more about myself, about how I could be brave and not allow fear to take control. These experiences proved to be seeds that gave me the confidence as an adult to muddle through the unknown and begin the hunt for the hidden treasures in my own soul.
And recently I came across a book that served as a guide in taking the next step in my quest to live a creative life – Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
I had previously enjoyed reading the story of Gilbert’s travels and journey of self-discovery in her memoir Eat, Pray, Love. This past summer, it was my turn to receive her newest book from the library hold list. The timing was impeccable. It proved to be the refreshing water to nourish a dream that was just beginning to take root.
In this book, Gilbert explained that all creative living is based on one question: “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures hidden within you?” She described that hunting for the hidden jewels within each of us often leads to the revelation of “big magic” which makes life truly worth living. She wrote, “The courage to go on that hunt in the first place – that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one.”
She also explored the many paradoxes of creativity and art. Gilbert described fear and creativity as conjoined twins, noting that “you have to make space for both since people who try to kill fear end up inadvertently murdered creativity in the process.”
This specific statement was especially powerful to me. You see, I’ve allowed fear to direct more of my decisions than I’d care to admit. People’s perceptions, my perceived limitations, fear of failure—they all served as shackles to developing the creativity deep within. It has been a paralyzing force at times, greatly limiting the possibility of living a fully-present, inspired life.
But my brave is starting to take the wheel more often lately, giving me the drive to dig for my own creative gems.
And I’ve found myself on a hunt of a different sort – for inspiration, for words, for moments of connection. As I started to ponder the possibility of starting a blog, I was willing to put in the work but I wondered how I would ever come up with enough meaningful content. Doubt was beginning to seep in.
But then I was reminded via a new blogger friend, Katie, that if I remained focused on what God is doing in the world around me instead of my own abilities, I will never lack inspiration. In a post on her site, www.justenoughbrave.com, she wrote, “But as writing started to become a response to what was actually happening in my life, I realized two vital things: the first is that I am never out of material if I write honestly, and the second is that I would never manufacture the sort of fulfillment I was looking for as a writer outside of God.”
In the same post, Katie used a metaphor comparing writing to catching fireflies. For this Midwest girl, the imagery hit home. And it’s helped me to be patient with myself during the process of pursuing my dreams and desires.
I am relearning to appreciate the thrill of the hunt. I’ve found my senses becoming more alert, my heart more attune to what is going on around me.
As I pay attention during my search, a part of me buried deep within is lighting up as never before. And it’s led to a connection with others who are on the same quest to cultivate an existence full of wonder and enchantment.
That’s the true magic of this journey.