This post is to offer encouragement to my fellow creatives who are struggling with the various emotions that result from being confined.
It is different for everyone, but for some artists I’ve been talking with, this suspension of movement has a hidden positive side. The reduction in constant contact seems to be a pleasant respite for some. Despite the anxiety of an uncertain income, some of my creative friends are reporting that they are finding themselves pretty productive without the hustle and bustle of daily life demands. Long hours in the studio or at the writing desk are possible in the absence of many typical daily interruptions.
Other artistic friends that I’ve spoken with report that they are chafing at the separation from friends, family and routine. Cabin fever is setting in and along with that a variety of unpleasant emotions that impede their ability to get into the studio or out in nature to create. Without the flow of ideas stimulated by in-person contact, their muse slowly dries up and they are faced with a creative block.
I fall somewhere in the moderate middle. I am loving the quiet and the solitude to work without interruption. On the other hand, I sure could use a good hug! I seem to have a strong impulse right now to remain connected in my community of artists and to know that they are well, so I’ve been reaching out to talk in person with artist and musician friends by phone, by Facebook and video chat. We are supporting one another in new and different ways and appreciating one another crafts even more than ever.
It’s such a conundrum. We have the ironic ability to save the world by sitting on our couch… keeping others safe by keeping a distance. But maybe we could contribute more expansively by sitting at our desk or in our studio and using this time of stillness to create. Maybe we can retain our purpose but adjust our practice? And what is our purpose as artists right now? Is art even relevant?
I have long believed that the purpose of all art forms is to make us think. That goes for visual art, graphic art, music, writing, etc. Neither the art form nor the technical skills of the artist matter whatsoever. It is the creative expression that matters- that indefinable process of contemplation that calls the artist to the drawing board. The introspection and tuning into our inner lives and emotions are what counts right now.
Let’s ask ourselves a couple of questions. How can we use our creative expression to bring comfort, compassion and joy to those who are suffering. How will you share your art to uplift our people and our country through its time of crisis? What new thought can you share, what song will you write? What poem will call out to our people to unite, ignite and incite for good?
Here’s a great example of how sharing your art can ripple. Thank you to Bruce and Cheryl who shared one of Bruce’s paintings with me on Facebook yesterday. Looking at the beautiful piece sparked a focus for my meditation this morning. The mantra I paired with Bruce’s landscape study was Peace Like a River. Peace like a River is a chant song that is very meaningful to my friend Rosie and when she sees the painting on my Facebook page, I am sure she will hear that song in her soul. It has played in my head since we sang it at her Mark’s funeral service all those many years ago. We humans find comfort in connection. Art connects and surely has an important role right now.
A second example: just last night we joined two young Massachusetts singer-songwriters on Facebook live while they shared a few songs from their upcoming album. Their lyrics and soothing harmonies brought us comfort and a respite from the usual evening television routine. They reminded us “don’t fan the flames of other people’s fears” and that “being good isn’t a contest”. I slept well and woke refreshed and ready to get to work on this blog post after listening to Mark and Raianne’s heartfelt work.
And our dear friend and author Larry Butler is offering his entire collection of books for free right now. We need ideas that are informed, intelligent and outside of the box. Here is Larry’s invitation to take advantage of his generous offer.
“During this trying time we may become so bored at home that we’re reading books we might not touch under normal circumstances. For the duration, I am making the library of e-books I’ve written available to anybody who wants them free of charge. This includes you, your family, and your friends too. The books deal with the issues of economic inequality and public policy, with special emphasis on debunking popular myths. Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and specify the title(s) you want to receive, and the format you prefer to read. The link takes you to my Webpage where you’ll find a brief description of each title.”
This time of enforced quiet is a gift to the creatives that we must use wisely. We must be still and look inward to touch all of the emotion that fuels our art. When we come through the fire we will explode into a new world of creative expression that will inspire the universe. I am so sure of it.