There is no artwork to go along with this post, which is the point.
A month ago the Bay Area started to quarantine with the hope of flattening the curve. (So far, so good! Keep it up!) Along with the quarantine came layoffs, cancelled events, and two groups of people: those with an overload of work and those who are stuck at home with too much time on their hands.
To those associated with the former: thank you for your sacrifice, and for going to work so that our lives can be bearable. This includes, but isn’t limited to, people in healthcare, grocery store employees, parents (especially those who have to work and home school, now. Yikes!), and anyone else volunteering to create and/or bring supplies to people in any form. Thank you, thank you, a million times over!
To those stuck at home with too much time on your hands: It’s okay. Kind of. Hey, I’m right here with you! This article is meant for us more than anyone else. It is written primarily for creatives, but the themes can apply to everyone.
When the quarantine started a lot of the online creative circuit shared quotes and memes about how “so and so wrote this during the plague” and how “so and so did this amazing thing during the time they were quarantined” and how “if you can’t find the time to be creative and do something during this quarantine you are pretty much a waste of a human being”. STOP!
Please, just stop.
Are you using creativity to ignore mourning? Please, be honest.
We are bred and trained to GO GO GO! We are taught to work, and that if we aren’t spending every second of every day doing something productive that we are a waste of a human being. This is not healthy.
As a society we are taught to ignore the mourning process. Yes, go to the funeral. But, get up, wipe those tears from your face, and get back to work. This is not healthy.
If we stop, if we rest, we feel guilty. This is not healthy.
I encourage you to STOP, right now, more than ever.
We should mourn. We should mourn the loss of our jobs, our new “normal”, the crashing economy, and of the constant loom of death and tragedy on the horizon, with no way to pay rent, and no solid sight of this quarantine ending anytime soon. It is so important to feel these feelings. If we are lucky, this pandemic will have halted everyone long enough that it opens our eyes to our many looming problems. Maybe this is the kick in the butt that we need to turn the world around for the better. (I want to believe it)
We cannot mourn forever, but we need to mourn in order to heal. We are in the middle of a PANDEMIC, for crying out loud! Mourning is different for every person, because we are all facing different circumstances that are unique to each of us. Some of us will take a day to mourn. Some of us will mourn a month or two. Some of us will mourn into next year or longer. All of us will mourn in waves, because healing and mourning are not linear.
Be kind to yourself. Please, be kind to yourself, right now. Give yourself space and time to breathe.
Give yourself permission to “just be”. Sit in silence. Cry. Putter. Cry a little more. Sit again. Putter again. Sleep. When you have stopped, and when you have mourned so much that you can’t mourn any longer, I encourage you to look around you.
When we stop we can look around us. We can’t look around when we are moving. If we are creating we are not looking. If we are creating we could be finding ways to “stay productive/adequate” so that we can earn our “worthy human” badge. STOP so you can LOOK!
Stop so that you can look for the truth of what is happening in this moment. Don’t think about “when this is all over” or “in a year from now”, but just try to live “now”. Absorb it and feel it. And if you are so inclined, take mental notes (or literal notes) for how everything is unfolding, for how you feel, and what you are observing within yourself, and maybe those around you. For creatives, this can be a time of rebirth if you allow yourself to be cleansed of the busy noise that is so prominent in our society. In time, your notes may serve as some of your greatest inspiration and work. But, let it sit and age, like a fine wine.
Listening is difficult. It is easy to talk, to do, and to accomplish. Listening involves doing nothing but that: listening.
I encourage you to start with small steps. Listen to the wind. Listen to the birds. Listen to the kids who finally get to go outside and play. Listen to the empty freeways and city streets. Listen to the earth. Listen to all of the sounds that are not you.
Did you hear that?
Listen to all of the sounds that are NOT YOU. Stay here for a while. Stay for longer than you think you need to stay, and then even longer.
We learn from listening. As creatives, the most important thing we can do is listen and learn outwardly. Listening to the things around us sparks the flame of inspiration that allows us to then listen inwardly. When we can combine the voice of the world with our individuality, we can best use our talents and passions with a PURPOSE, instead of needlessly flailing around so that we can claim our “busy” badge.
When is the right time to jump into the creativity bucket again? You will know when it is time to speak, again.
So many creatives are struggling with the pressure to be active right now, because they “have the time”. I would encourage everyone (creative or not) to take a step or two back and stop for a while. Be kind to yourself, and give yourself credit if all you can do is walk to your couch and stare at the corner of the room. It’s going to be okay. You are going to be okay.
Don’t beat yourself up for NOT creating right now. You will make up for it. Just take this all in, because that is the most important thing you can do for your creativity right now. What will be waiting in your inspiration box is something far more satiating if you give it time to age.
Stay healthy, everyone.