Brave Magic in the Redwoods

I love firsts.

Recently – and for the first time – I was lucky enough to spend a seriously inspiring, fun, and intense weekend at 1440 Multiversity in Scotts Valley, CA. 1440 Multiversity dubs itself “an immersive learning destination where energy, discovery, and creativity flourish.”

From my experience, I can vouch for the veracity of this description.

Opened in May of 2017, 1440 (the number of minutes in a day) is a hub/campus in the middle of the redwoods off Highway 17 near Santa Cruz, CA offering workshops, classes, and forums facilitated by very interesting people that – in a nutshell – feed people’s hearts, minds, and souls.

So who – for the first time – fed me and 600 or so other like-minded hungry, curious writers, creatives and seekers?

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the best-selling “Eat, Pray, Love,” and Cheryl Strayed, author of the best-selling “Wild.”

Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert in their element onstage magically engaging with a rapt audience.
Cheryl Strayed and Elizabeth Gilbert in their element onstage magically engaging with a rapt audience.

And what was on the menu?

Brave Magic.

“Brave Magic,” the weekend’s theme, borrows from the title of Gilbert’s 2015 book “Brave Magic,” in which she offers stories, thoughts, and perspectives on creativity and the creative process.

The daunting and inspiring premise of “Brave Magic”? That we are ALL creators and, hence, we are ALL creative.

Cheryl and Liz complement each other perfectly.  It was obvious during the weekend’s opening conversation between them onstage that they clearly have great fondness for each other. Both have a great sense of humor, which was infectious. Both embody a brilliant and relatable earthiness that I found heartening and refreshing. And they both – for my taste – are appropriately comfortable with four-letter words.

My kinda gals.

Yet, in significant respects, they are also different.

Cheryl is married with two teenage kids.

Liz, while previously married and in partnership, is currently single and has no kids.

Cheryl was raised by a single mom with little money.

Liz was raised by a Midwestern mom and dad of greater means.

From where I sat, these differences both inform and reflect their unique, individual styles.

And what was patently clear is that both women – echoing the themes of their respective best-sellers – have journeyed far in their lives.

I’m struggling a bit to come up with the most effective way of conveying my takeaways  from a most expansive and immersive weekend to you, my valued reader, so bear with me.

To start, here are a few resonant gems offered by each woman:

Cheryl:   “You can make a life based on the things you choose to engage with.”

Liz:          “A curated life that is chosen is more important than happiness.”

Cheryl:   “Our wounds become the greatest source of our power.”

Liz:         “Be greedy about your life.  Ask yourself, ‘Who gets the best part of myself?’”

Cheryl:   “Surrender to your mediocrity.”

Liz:         “True love liberates the beloved.” (Borrowed )

Cheryl:   “Speak the things you’ve never spoken.”

Liz:         “Ask yourself, ‘Who, living or dead, would I most have to abandon or betray in order to live the life I’m meant to live?’”

Big gems.  I know.

"Mind Maps" drawn in realtime by our weekend scribe, Orion Simprini. It was a visual/whiteboard way of "taking notes" of each day's session.
“Mind Maps” drawn in real time by our weekend scribe, Orion Simprini. A visual/whiteboard way of “taking notes” of each day’s session.

Tasked individually by Liz and Cheryl (each presided individually over the gathering at different times), we attendees spent a lot of time writing.  We wrote letters.  Letters in the voice of personified qualities back to us (like “clarity,” “engagement,” “power,” “fear”). We were provided an opening sentence to get us going and about five minutes to write. We then read our letters aloud to a partner, someone in the audience we had never met before.

To give you an idea, here is one of the letters I wrote, spontaneous and unedited (gulp):

 “Dear Sue,

This is your fear, and this is what I want to tell you. You may not know this, but I am your friend. I’m trying to tell you something. I’m saying,  wake up. There is something you need to look at here, even if you don’t  want to. And why you don’t want to look here is where the rubber meets the road. When I’m afraid you don’t have enough, that’s a wound around scarcity. It’s like a bug in the software. When I’m afraid you might get hurt, that’s a really sore spot around trust. Look at that. I’m the symptom, not the disease. So don’t ignore me. You can’t. Because once you see me, really understand why I’m here, you will set me free. And I won’t be afraid anymore because then I’ll know you love me. And know that I love you.

P.S.  I will be back. So just remember what I said.       

Your Fear”

There is such power and healing in speaking one’s unvarnished truth to someone poised to listen.

Try it sometime.

I’m sure a lot of us attendees had certain ideas and hopes going in about what we might hear from these two literary luminaries.

Speaking for myself, the weekend both shattered and exceeded my expectations.

Our conversations and expressions were as much – if not more – a metaphysical exploration of life as they were a discussion about creative protocol, process, and style.

When we were assigned to draw a spontaneous “doodle” of the word “truth,” this is what your PS blogger came up with.
When we were assigned to draw a spontaneous “doodle” of the word “truth,” this is what your PS blogger came up with.

Brave Magic, indeed.

I was reminded by both Cheryl and Liz over and over again – as I laughed, cried, listened, hugged, spoke, and wrote – that my “place” on this earth, in this cosmos is not earned, it is a given.

It is enough to simply “be.”

I am loved.  As are you.

 

 

 

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