Last year I had the pleasure of reading an enlightening book that stirred the most dormant of senses within my mind. A book that completely altered my way of thinking, as if it were destined solely for my eyes. In the book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert explores creativity and the magical way that ideas are their own life form; searching for a conforming partner in the form of Inspiration.
In a nutshell, if an idea chooses us, we must act upon it or our idea will eventually pick another willing participant. If we choose to ignore it, these ideas may slip through our fingers; never to return.
This made sense to me. How many times had a brilliant idea come wholeheartedly bounding into my head at the most awkward of times, while I impatiently (or perhaps hesitantly) shoved it aside for another day? By the time I reciprocated the greeting, I would be met by an unrelenting door. My ideas would then find comfort with another more appreciative being and I didn’t blame them.
By the end of this book, I felt so inspired. I waited eagerly for an idea to loyally embrace, but nothing came. Big Magic bulls*&t I thought.
However, over time (and as I forgot about Big Magic) I rekindled my love for bike riding on and off the road after a running injury. Lately my bikes and I have discovered forest glades, enjoyed beach outings, fought to tow 35 kilograms up vertical hills, battled mountains, conquered the highest peaks (well kind of), taken on jumps (or nose dives as you may call it), been plastered with mud and received a bruising and battering; all in the name of adventure. And in the process, something magical has been brewing…
I like to call it ‘Bike Magic.’
Although we may still be in the honeymoon period, my bike has provided something that other activities have failed to do. It has extended an invitation to Inspiration. Fortunately (or unfortunately for you and my Instagram followers as your news feeds are clogged with an array of bike shots) I’ve had an abundance of pedalling time of late, therefore a resultant waiting list of lingering ideas waiting to make the exclusive guest list. The change of scenery has been ideal.
However, I have been taking Gilbert’s advice to a whole new level of intensity. Afraid that my attractive ideas might leave me for another being, I have literally stalked them. I am not really sure that she intended for me to spear tackle inspiration to the ground with a wheel skid and nose dive for the tenth time in five minutes; holding it in a headlock as I grapple for my phone’s notebook with urgency, shakily tapping out the voices in my exploding head (yes I did take 45 minutes to cycle 2km home once).
I am sure she was indicating a slightly more composed approach; casually riding home while the idea occupies my head space and pulling up a chair to my computer with a delicious coffee – safe from all hazards – while gradually putting an eager pen to paper. Not like a maniac with a death wish.
However, my ideas are rebellious. They are nomadic in nature and thrive on fleeting visits, so you have to drink while it rains, so to speak. My inspiration has a sordid sense of humour; it thinks it’s hilarious not to call or visit for months, and then show up unannounced with a group of friends just as I pedal along a narrow road with three semi trucks up my ar%e. Or it arrives just as I clip my feet into the pedals and try to climb a steep hill for the fifth time, insisting on an invitation.
Much to my dismay, I simply cannot please everyone. Although I think all my ideas are ingenious, inviting them all would create a wild party inside my head. I have to pick the special ones; the ones that tear through my head with a painful necessity; the persistent ones who show grit and determination even when I am unwilling; the ones that almost run me off the road in excitement; the fighters; the ones that push me for a personal best time as I pedal home to my precious note pad.
It is similar to when I read a good book. For several days I will sacrifice living as I am possessed by an intriguing story. I hide in the laundry, around the corner of the house, I cook tea with a book in my hand and I even sneak in a few pages as I bath the kids. It is so exciting, however, it is exhausting. I always need to have a break for several days or select a less inviting book so I can retrieve my life for a few days. Sometimes my excess of ideas is similar. I need to padlock the door to my mind and flaunt a ‘keep out’ sign across my forehead.
Fortunately, if I lose the location of my inspiration in this offensive process, all I have to do is throw my butt on a bike seat and I am the equivalent of Rocky Balboa. I can take out writer’s road block with a hook and a jab and wrestle my ideas to the ground with no hands. Now that is ‘Bike Magic!’
So what lures your inspiration from its hiding place? We all experience the ‘Big Magic’ that Elizabeth Gilbert speaks about in her book, and for each of us it works in different ways. Your amazing ideas might visit you in your sleep, while reading a book, they may accompany you out for dinner, interrupt your favourite television show or they could even appear when you are on holidays. Nevertheless, whenever they decide to make an appearance – uninvited or not – welcome them or at least acknowledge them in writing. Who knows what magic they are capable of?
In the mean time, if you see a crazy woman stopping every minute on her bike in front of your house (and perhaps muttering to herself), know that she is experiencing some ‘Bike Magic.’