Have you heard of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear? She’s the author of Eat Pray Love, which you may have read. Or watched on the big screen, or heard people rave about.
Here’s one of my favorite stories from Big Magic – it’s about Blossoming even when you’re wearing a Red Lobster costume and melting in embarrassment…
Little Brother, an aspiring painter, went to France to surround himself with beauty and inspiration. He lived on the cheap, painted every day, visited museums, traveled to picturesque locations, bravely spoke to everyone he met, and showed his work to anyone who would look at it. (O, I love it – how open and trusting!)
One afternoon, he struck up a conversation at a cafe with a group of charming young people. They invited him to a party that weekend in a castle in the Loire Valley – the party of the year! It would be attended by rich and famous and by several crowned heads of Europe. Best of all, it was a masquerade ball, where nobody skimped on the costumes.
Dress up, they said, and join us!
Excited, Little Brother worked all week on a costume that he was certain would be a showstopper. He held back on neither the details nor the audacity of this creation.
Little Brother ascended the castle steps and entered the ballroom, head held high. Upon which he immediately realized his mistake. This was indeed a costume party – his new friends had not misled him – but he had missed one detail in translation: This was a themed costume party.
The theme was “a medieval court” — and Little Brother was dressed as a Red Lobster. All around him, the wealthy and beautiful were attired in elaborate period gowns, draped in heirloom jewels, sparkling as they waltzed to an orchestra.
Little Brother, on the other hand, was wearing a red leotard, red tights, red ballet slippers, and giant red foam claws. Also, his face was painted red.
He stood at the top of the steps for one long, ghastly moment. Running away in shame seemed like the most dignified response. But Little Brother didn’t run. Somehow, he found his resolve. He’d come this far, after all! He’d worked tremendously hard to make this costume, and he was proud of it.
Little Brother took a deep breath and walked onto the dance floor. He decided to trust in himself, to trust his Red Lobster costume, to trust in the circumstances.
As he moved into the crowd, a silence fell. The dancing stopped. The orchestra stuttered to a stop. The other guests gathered around Little Brother. Finally someone asked him what on earth he was.
Little Brother bowed deeply and boldly announced, “I am the Court Lobster.”
Then: laughter. Not ridicule – just joy. They loved him. They loved his sweetness, his weirdness, his giant red claws, his skinny legs in his bright tights. He was the trickster among them, and he made the party.
Little Brother even ended up dancing with the queen of Belgium.
This is how we Blossom!
Elizabeth Gilbert says:
“I have never created anything in my life that did not make me feel, at some point or another, like I was the guy who just walked into a fancy ball wearing a homemade lobster costume.
But you must stubbornly walk into that room, and you must hold your head high. Never apologize for it, never explain it away, never be ashamed of it.
You did your best with what you knew, and you worked with what you had, in the time you were given. You were invited, you showed up, and you simply cannot do more than that.”
Don’t walk out with your head hanging low.
You’ve come a long way and you’ve made a lot of effort…and you can Blossom even if you’re wearing a homemade Red Lobster costume at a medieval court ball.
In peace and passion,
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