I empathize with those who have lost loved ones, those who fight on the medical front lines or remain at their posts performing other essential jobs, and those who have suffered loss of employment and remain helplessly at home as their savings dwindle. I appreciate your pain and in no way want to belittle it. However, while taking a walk recently I found the need to glean something positive from this crisis, something to lift spirits and focus attention for the many people who find themselves trapped at home.
Let me preface this by saying that my state is under a lockdown directive and I’m going stir crazy too, even though I am a freelance writer and have been working at home for years. My schedule is simple. I work seven days a week, although with slightly relaxed hours on the weekends. I exercise regularly; I take long daily walks. Until the need for social distancing was stressed, I would often combine these walks with bits of necessary business. Instead of doing all my weekly shopping at once, I would break it up and go three or four days a week to nearby supermarkets. Once a week I’d also go to the local library and see what new titles had come in. The library has been closed for over a month, and my shopping trips have been cut back to one a week. I wake up early and go to the supermarket when it is least crowded, shopping list in hand, and move through the aisles as quickly as possible, deftly avoiding other early bird shoppers. It’s no fun anymore.
My income has remained fairly steady, but that’s no great accomplishment when for years it has averaged far below the poverty line. The difference between me and others who have recently lost their jobs is that I am used to living at the edge of fiscal disaster; I have already been doing it for a long time. In fact, this pandemic has caused me to appreciate the situation I am in more than I ever have before. In the past, I looked around me and realized that almost everyone I knew earned far more money than I did. I’m not someone who is prone to envy, but I couldn’t help but feel downcast sometimes when I contemplated the reality that I was near the bottom of the heap. Now, however, as I tread water, I appreciate that I am used to treading water; others for whom basic survival is a new experience are much more in shock.
Be that as it may, as I was on my walk the other day, I realized that these recent stay-at-home orders have their bright side. What are you doing while you’re waiting to get back to work? Twiddling your thumbs? Binge watching TV series on streaming services? Getting drunk? Getting stoned? I have a suggestion of an alternative activity.
I have been reading a biography of Leonardo da Vinci. Well, it’s not so much a biography as an analysis of his works; nevertheless, the point is that it has caused me to contemplate creativity. And it has occurred to me that rather than rattle the bars of their cages or indulge in self-destructive activities, homebound people can yield to their creative impulses and let loose their inner angels or demons by writing stories or poems, or composing music, or painting pictures, or carving sculptures, or crafting furniture, or whatever it is that you’ve always wanted to do but never had the time for. This could be the start of a new artistic renaissance as people express whatever thoughts and feelings they have been hiding inside.
The best part is, it can be a community effort. Create your works in secret, and then publish them online for the world to see. There are all sorts of platforms where you can post videos, photographs, stories, poems, musical compositions, and so on. Some of these venues even offer you options for the payment of royalties. You never know.
If you want to give your creative work a shot, though, I want to offer you a piece of advice: don’t leave it to chance. Don’t be content with a vague idea that you’ll do it when you’re in the mood. If you take that approach, you’ll never be in the mood. Instead, schedule time every day for it. Make it the time of day when you are brightest and most alert. It may be difficult to get going at first, but your mind and spirit, your creative core, will begin to realize on a subliminal level that you are making time for it, and in response it will begin to throw out thoughts and impressions and ideas. That’s when you’ll really be able to hit a higher gear and get flying.
In conclusion, you know that somewhere inside you’re already an artist. During these tense days of worldwide waiting, rip open the cocoon and let out the butterfly.