“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” — Roald Dahl
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.
The weekly Lens-Artists Photo Challenge is taking a tour of the seasons. Last week, it was Summer; today, it’s Spring.
Last week, I featured a song by John Denver. I became a huge fan of his at the age of 12, just two years after seeing a mountain for the first time. A few years later, I got into the Jazz Choir in High School and became a huge Ella Fitzgerald fan. I found a very fitting song for Spring 2020 in her repertoire. It’s called “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most”, by Tommy Wolf and Fran Landesman.
“…Spring, this year has got me feeling
Like a horse that never left the post.
I lie in my room staring up at the ceiling.
Spring can really hang you up the most…
Morning’s kiss wakes trees and flowers,
And to them I’d like to drink a toast.
I walk in the park just to kill those lonely hours.
Spring can really hang you up the most…
Those birds twitter twit.
I know their tune –
This is love, this is it.
Heard it before,
And I know the score,
And I’ve decided that Spring is a bore.
Love seem sure around the New Year.
Now it’s April; Love is just a ghost.
Spring arrived on time,
But what became of you, dear?
Spring can really hang you up the most…”
This Spring was really tough for me for several reasons, only one of which was the Covid 19 pandemic. However, I am continually reminded in Nature that life goes on, changes become new horizons, and beauty and joy are renewed each day.
Thank you to Tina of Travels and Trifles, who hosted this week’s challenge by sharing some beautiful shots of her home island.
May the spirit of Spring bring us all hope in new life to come!
“There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed.
Some forever, not for better;
Some have gone but some remain.”
~ ‘In My Life’ by The Beatles