Time, Place, and Space

13 02 2017


February 13, 2017

Fellow naturalist and writer Julie Zickefoose recommended Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert as a reminder “to beat fear back in the pursuit of self-expression.” I had not been impressed with her Eat Pray Love. I don’t even remember how I felt when I finished Committed. I heard and then forgot that Gilbert left that chronicled and hard-fought relationship to partner with a friend now facing multiple cancers. But Julie’s words resonated at the moment. A long weekend was coming up and I had some free time and no book.

When I started Big Magic, I was hooked by the defining question: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you? I shared this with my cousin, also writing a book; she was skeptical of Gilbert’s work and asked for more information. I kept reading and just loved her concept that an idea–a book plot, a scientific discovery, and the like–is an energetic entity that floats around, trying to find a home with someone who will implement it. After a while, this idea can get tired of waiting for a host to act and will move on to another more likely prospect. The example given by Liz Gilbert is a story line she had invested some time into researching, only to be distracted by her then partner’s deportation and the subsequent book (Committed) which described all that. When she went back to this other plot, she’d lost all the vim and vigor to write it…it was gone. Around this time, she became friends with novelist Ann Patchett. A year later, Patchett shared the premise of her work in progress, and it was almost the same plot as the one Gilbert had lost. Gilbert felt the idea had transferred to Patchett when they first met; it had found a more probable person to bring it to completion.


My cousin and I during the time she lent me A State of Wonder

OK, that’s all pretty cool, but it happened to them, not me. Then I realized I had read that book of Patchett’s, State of Wonder. Then, holy moly, it hit me! This same cousin who’d asked for more information about Big Magic had Patchett’s book with her when I last saw her, and had lent it me to read! That felt like a confirmation of this concept–that ideas float around looking for a likely host–with a link that included me.

So, I dwelt a bit on this concept. It’s about being at the right place at the right time. Ideas, people, and events all intersect with us at a particular time and place. We’ve all felt the serendipity of running into someone, or coming across an idea in one location, and then seeing it again in a second and maybe even third place. Then, whether we pick them up or are oblivious to them really is about how open we are at the moment. If we are willing to stop and listen, to provide a space for these whispers from the universe, then we can experience the richness of life. We can learn and grow and live in wonder and amazement.