“There’s got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let’s keep on looking for the light…”
– Maureen McGovern
“Here comes the sun, do, dun, do, do
Here comes the sun, and I say
It’s all right
Little darling, the smile’s returning to their faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here…”
– George Harrison
“I can see clearly now the rain is gone
I can see all obstacles in my way
Here is that rainbow I’ve been praying for
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day
It’s gonna be a bright (bright)
Bright (bright) sunshiny day…”
– Jimmy Cliff
“Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy
Sunshine in my eyes can make me cry
Sunshine on the water looks so lovely
Sunshine almost always makes me high
If I had a day that I could give you
I’d give to you the day just like today
If I had a song that I could sing for you
I’d sing a song to make you feel this way…”
– John Denver
I am feeling more sunshiny this morning than I have in a loooooong time! Our life-giving Star may be 93 million miles away, but it is the constant in my life that never fails. Civilizations disappoint; human systems are always flawed, but the Solar System is going to be supporting life for a good while yet. And sometimes, I feel like even human beings might be rising to the challenge of being bright and warm!
“Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
Good day sunshine
I need to laugh, and when the sun is out
I’ve got something I can laugh about
I feel good, in a special way
I’m in love and it’s a sunny day…”
– Paul McCartney
Special thank to Ana, our Lens-Artists guest host for this week’s Challenge. She picked the perfect theme!
Creativity. Creation. Creators.
Growing up, I was taught that I was called into being by a Creator and that I had the ability and the responsibility to become a co-creator. It seemed like a very daunting future. What was I to create? What could I offer the world?
I started with trying to discover what I might be good at. I majored in Music/Voice Performance in college, and I married my High School sweetheart in my senior year. By graduation, I was pregnant. I had a talent for producing children, turns out. I had four children by the time I was 28.
I met a celibate priest and author, Rev. Martin Smith, at a church event. He spoke of how people would always wonder at his sacrifice of creativity and fatherhood. He assured them that while he was not making babies, he was making meaning.
“Making meaning” became a phrase that stuck with me. When I was 30, I began to write poetry. I self-published a book of poems and parables and sold 50 copies in our church bookstore.
When I turned 50, I bought myself a digital camera and started blogging. I had been using the Canon AE-1 that my high school sweetheart and late husband had bought me as a teenager to develop a photographer’s eye. Having the ability to see the frames instantly fed my appetite to produce images.
All this time, though, I wasn’t sure if I was really “good” at creating anything. I felt like I dabbled. I thought that I might not have earned that co-creator status that I was supposedly destined for.
During “the Time of Covid”, I clicked through a lot of psychology videos while sorting out some major life transitions. That is how I came across the very affirming words of Brené Brown, who maintains that we are inherently creative and that shame is the major obstacle to our living out that creative purpose. She and Scott Barry Kaufman (co-author of Wired to Create) did a podcast in which she shares this quote from one of her books:
“Unused creativity is not benign. It metastisizes. It turns into grief, rage, judgment, sorrow, shame.” -Brené Brown
Wow. So, on top of all the grief and rage of “the time of Covid”, not using your creativity will cause another layer of unhealthy detriment to your soul.
I had re-entered the community theater scene last year after 14 years. I was in a musical last summer and a production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” in February. In March, I played Irish fiddle (badly – having first picked up the violin only two years ago) in an improv comedy act, but the last performance, on St. Patrick’s Day, was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Via the magic of Zoom and Discord, I have been able to connect with folks to do reader’s theater versions of plays by Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Thornton Wilder, and others. I do voices – English accents, Russian accents, old people, young people, men, women, and storms.
I started trying to learn to speak Spanish yesterday. My youngest daughter is teaching herself Russian. Together we are also addressing income insecurity and racism and politics in our precious face-to-face discussions. For me, making meaning in this “time of Covid” and after a cross-country move is about affirming life, affirming values, creating community, and living wholeheartedly into an uncertain future while braving the vulnerability and shame that always hovers around my humanity.
Creativity in the Time of Covid is essential for all of us. It is a practice for our individual mental health and the health of our shared humanity. We need to see ourselves as beings called to make meaning together and hard-wired to connect around our vulnerability. We are navigating in treacherous, uncertain waters. If we can make ourselves into a human life raft, we might just stay afloat.
Thank you, Tina, for inspiring creativity and self-reflection with this challenge, and for the very kind “shout out” to my previous post, Under the Sun.
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
Congratulations to the Lens-Artists on their 100th week of photo challenges and for building an artistic community that reflects vision and awareness!
I have not participated in all 100 of the challenges; I joined in at week #13. This week, Tina is our host, and she puts together a beautiful and moving post incorporating the theme and thoughts surrounding current world events. Her inspiration is spot on.
We live in challenging times. The struggle to move forward despite grave difficulties threatening survival is a real one. Whenever I am feeling the need to get emotionally grounded for the journey, I head outside for natural inspiration. This afternoon, as I walked the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, I noticed all the biodiversity of a summer woodland scene and the competition for sunlight. There were millions of maple seeds that had sprouted and created a blanket of living green on the forest floor.
I realized that very few of those delicate sprouts would become seedlings and that even fewer would grow to maturity. Survival and survival strategies are complex and interrelated among all species. And yet each organism is hardwired to try to survive…somehow.
Looking at the teeming abundance of green in a June woodland, you have to respect that Life seeks to survive. I think of myself as a Biophile. I love Life. I think is it beautiful, interesting, awesome, and sacred.
A humble respect for Life is paramount to the health of our Planet and to civilization. The peril of the arrogant human practice of willfully extinguishing Life is realized in a million different examples throughout history. Life has plenty of healthy self-regulating systems already in place. A much more useful human practice is kindness, wonder, and love.
“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
We certainly have a long way to go on the road toward a reality of unarmed truth and unconditional love. Best to strap on our hiking boots and take steps.
This article is featured in the January edition of The Be Zine, which you can read HERE.
TO The States, or any one of them, or any city of The States, Resist much, obey little;
Once unquestioning obedience, once fully enslaved;
Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, of this earth, ever afterward resumes its liberty. – Walt Whitman
James Hepworth and Gregory McNamee chose these italicized words from Whitman’s writing for the title of a book they put together on writer and radical environmental activist Ed Abbey. I think of Ed in the desert wilderness of Utah’s Canyonlands. He is choosing to explore without roads, without a vehicle, without expensive equipment. He is on foot. He has matches, a knife, and boots. He drinks from the river. He walks in the cool of the night. He gathers sticks and makes a fire. He cooks a fish from the river. He is free. He is central to his existence, no other. I met some of his friends at the Wilderness 50 Conference in Albuquerque in 2014. They were a spirited bunch and passionate about the value of wild places, places without systems, where humans are visitors only and do not dominate the landscape. These wilderness advocates represent a resistance movement that truly inspires me.
The freedom to choose how you will act is basic autonomy. To relinquish that choice is enslavement. However, exercising that choice need not be violent or ego-driven. I believe it is possible to act freely while maintaining a posture of love and openness. I admire the practice of Thich Nhat Hahn, a Buddhist monk who engages in political activism in a peaceful and mindful manner. The first step to acting in freedom is awareness. Being aware of the present moment includes being aware of the suffering inherent in a situation, of the emotions that all parties bring to bear. It also includes being aware of the values you wish to embody. The Eight-Fold Path describes values to consider: right view, right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. Determining to walk this path while resisting temptation and influence in other directions is indeed a form of activism.
I am wary of the pressures that systems in this country employ to urge compliance. I don’t want to see my freedom of choice reduced to “paper or plastic?”, as George Carlin suggests. At the same time, I recognize that freedom requires responsibility. If I make my choices, I must abide by the consequences. Again, I think of Ed in the wilderness, happily accepting the dangers along with the adventure, feeling completely alive. There is risk involved in living in freedom and an opportunity to respond in community to the outcomes of those risks. That I will be wise enough to respond with compassion and not restriction is my hope. I cannot say that I practiced that as a parent raising four children, though! I do know the urge to stifle the free exploration of a youngster. I am not convinced that it is the best practice for the spirit of either parent or child.
May we all have the courage to resist enslavement, the compassion to encourage freedom, the awareness to recognize the choices before us, and the will to act in love.
As a positive-thinking person, I am sad to hear so many people saying that 2016 was a bad year. So, I decided to go back through my photos of the year and pick just one from each month to remind myself what I was focusing on and maybe get an idea why it wasn’t so terrible, horrible, no-good and very bad after all. Here are my monthly picks:
I don’t want to say that the year was without disappointment. At the beginning of 2016, I was also campaigning for Bernie Sanders by phone and door-to-door.
On the last day of November, I suffered two losses that hit me very hard: my boss resigned and a dear pet died. I guess my point is that perspective is still up to me. Where I give my heart, where I direct my eyes, where I train my efforts and thoughts is still up to me. And no system can take that away.
May all beings be happy in 2017; may all beings be free from suffering in 2017. Thank you for visiting my blog!
There’s no such thing as Time. It’s not a thing; it is a concept. It tries to explain why we see change, which is a thing.
This difference is a change. Why did it change? Because the tree fell. When did it fall? Ah, now we need a concept for that moment and for the changes since that moment.
This looks different. This is a change. Is it about the time? 47 years doesn’t mean much. The changes mean a lot. There was a man, a husband, a father, a singer. Now, there is no man, no husband, no father, no song.
What about this change?
It might look like a change from what you’re used to, but some people see this every day. No change; no time.
In order to feel a sense of time at all, we need to be able to imagine what something was like before and how it’s changed.
And then we try to measure the rate of change. How long did it take for this to become something different?
We humans get to think about change and time because we have such big, big brains. Other species don’t. That gives us a huge amount of responsibility. We should be taking that seriously, noticing changes and imagining what the future might be like.
I wrote this article for The Be Zine whose November issue was dedicated to “At-Risk Youth”.