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So, a few years ago I was at JFK Airport
about to get on a flight,
when I was approached by two women
who I do not think would be insulted
to hear themselves described
as tiny old tough-talking Italian-American broads.
The taller one, who is like up here,
she comes marching up to me, and she goes,
"Honey, I gotta ask you something.
You got something to do with that whole
'Eat, Pray, Love' thing that's been going on lately?"
And I said, "Yes, I did."
And she smacks her friend and she goes,
"See, I told you, I said, that's that girl.
That's that girl who wrote that book
based on that movie."
(Laughter)
So that's who I am.
And believe me, I'm extremely grateful to be that person,
because that whole "Eat, Pray, Love" thing
was a huge break for me.
But it also left me in a really tricky position
moving forward as an author
trying to figure out how in the world
I was ever going to write a book again
that would ever please anybody,
because I knew well in advance
that all of those people who had adored "Eat, Pray, Love"
were going to be incredibly disappointed
in whatever I wrote next
because it wasn't going to be "Eat, Pray, Love,"
and all of those people who had hated "Eat, Pray, Love"
were going to be incredibly disappointed
in whatever I wrote next
because it would provide evidence that I still lived.
So I knew that I had no way to win,
and knowing that I had no way to win
made me seriously consider for a while
just quitting the game
and moving to the country to raise corgis.
But if I had done that, if I had given up writing,
I would have lost my beloved vocation,
so I knew that the task was that I had to find
some way to gin up the inspiration
to write the next book
regardless of its inevitable negative outcome.
In other words, I had to find a way to make sure
that my creativity survived its own success.
And I did, in the end, find that inspiration,
but I found it in the most unlikely
and unexpected place.
I found it in lessons that I had learned earlier in life
about how creativity can survive its own failure.
So just to back up and explain,
the only thing I have ever wanted to be
for my whole life was a writer.
I wrote all through childhood, all through adolescence,
by the time I was a teenager I was sending
my very bad stories to The New Yorker,
hoping to be discovered.
After college, I got a job as a diner waitress,
kept working, kept writing,
kept trying really hard to get published,
and failing at it.
I failed at getting published
for almost six years.
So for almost six years, every single day,
I had nothing but rejection letters
waiting for me in my mailbox.
And it was devastating every single time,
and every single time, I had to ask myself
if I should just quit while I was behind
and give up and spare myself this pain.
But then I would find my resolve,
and always in the same way,
by saying, "I'm not going to quit,
I'm going home."
And you have to understand that for me,
going home did not mean returning to my family's farm.
For me, going home
meant returning to the work of writing
because writing was my home,
because I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing,
which is to say that I loved writing
more than I loved my own ego,
which is ultimately to say
that I loved writing more than I loved myself.
And that's how I pushed through it.
But the weird thing is that 20 years later,
during the crazy ride of "Eat, Pray, Love,"
I found myself identifying all over again
with that unpublished young diner waitress
who I used to be, thinking about her constantly,
and feeling like I was her again,
which made no rational sense whatsoever
because our lives could not have been more different.
She had failed constantly.
I had succeeded beyond my wildest expectation.
We had nothing in common.
Why did I suddenly feel like I was her all over again?
And it was only when I was trying to unthread that
that I finally began to comprehend
the strange and unlikely psychological connection
in our lives between the way we experience great failure
and the way we experience great success.
So think of it like this:
For most of your life, you live out your existence
here in the middle of the chain of human experience
where everything is normal and reassuring and regular,
but failure catapults you abruptly way out over here
into the blinding darkness of disappointment.
Success catapults you just as abruptly but just as far
way out over here
into the equally blinding glare
of fame and recognition and praise.
And one of these fates
is objectively seen by the world as bad,
and the other one is objectively seen by the world as good,
but your subconscious is completely incapable
of discerning the difference between bad and good.
The only thing that it is capable of feeling
is the absolute value of this emotional equation,
the exact distance that you have been flung
from yourself.
And there's a real equal danger in both cases
of getting lost out there
in the hinterlands of the psyche.
But in both cases, it turns out that there is
also the same remedy for self-restoration,
and that is that you have got to find your way back home again
as swiftly and smoothly as you can,
and if you're wondering what your home is,
here's a hint:
Your home is whatever in this world you love
more than you love yourself.
So that might be creativity, it might be family,
it might be invention, adventure,
faith, service, it might be raising corgis,
I don't know, your home is that thing
to which you can dedicate your energies
with such singular devotion
that the ultimate results become inconsequential.
For me, that home has always been writing.
So after the weird, disorienting success
that I went through with "Eat, Pray, Love,"
I realized that all I had to do was exactly
the same thing that I used to have to do all the time
when I was an equally disoriented failure.
I had to get my ass back to work,
and that's what I did, and that's how, in 2010,
I was able to publish the dreaded follow-up
to "Eat, Pray, Love."
And you know what happened with that book?
It bombed, and I was fine.
Actually, I kind of felt bulletproof,
because I knew that I had broken the spell
and I had found my way back home
to writing for the sheer devotion of it.
And I stayed in my home of writing after that,
and I wrote another book that just came out last year
and that one was really beautifully received,
which is very nice, but not my point.
My point is that I'm writing another one now,
and I'll write another book after that
and another and another and another
and many of them will fail,
and some of them might succeed,
but I will always be safe
from the random hurricanes of outcome
as long as I never forget where I rightfully live.
Look, I don't know where you rightfully live,
but I know that there's something in this world
that you love more than you love yourself.
Something worthy, by the way,
so addiction and infatuation don't count,
because we all know that those are not safe places to live. Right?
The only trick is that you've got to identify
the best, worthiest thing that you love most,
and then build your house right on top of it
and don't budge from it.
And if you should someday, somehow
get vaulted out of your home
by either great failure or great success,
then your job is to fight your way back to that home
the only way that it has ever been done,
by putting your head down and performing
with diligence and devotion
and respect and reverence
whatever the task is that love
is calling forth from you next.
You just do that, and keep doing that
again and again and again,
and I can absolutely promise you, from long personal experience
in every direction, I can assure you
that it's all going to be okay.
Thank you.
(Applause)
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【TED】Elizabeth Gilbert: Success, failure and the drive to keep creating (Success, failure and the drive to keep creating | Elizabeth Gilbert)

28909 Folder Collection
Halu Hsieh published on May 12, 2014    Iris translated    彭彥婷 reviewed
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