At the beginning of the pandemic and the stay at home, shelter in place order(s) many who had the luxury of working from home were hilarious in our hubris. We were saying things like, I am going learn a foreign language (even though Facebook posts show clearly we haven’t yet mastered our first one), we were going to learn to play an instrument, write a book, deep clean the house and finally clean out that attic or basement. This is a prime example of why “ignorance is bliss” is a saying. We were ignorant. We had never encountered a pandemic before, most of us had to look it up (hand raised) to decipher the difference between that and an epidemic.
We couldn’t possibly comprehend what this was going to be like, feel like, or what toll it was going to take. I think it’s also too early for us to even attempt to assess as the pandemic experience continues on…
What we do know now is this is not the time we are likely learning a second language, mastering our first (wink wink), or learning to play anything more complex than the triangle (apologies to any professional triangle players out there).
In these times many have cultivated creativity in ways we didn’t anticipate, which how could we, they don’t call them unprecedented times for nothing! We have seen Etsy shop owners pivot to selling masks, and breweries shift from shots of tequila to a potent shot of sanitizer. These are the people I find fascinating. They see a genuine need and instead of preying on the vulnerable, they find a way to fill the now-open void.
My creativity during this time has been more akin to tripping over the same tree stump in the ground, on the same path, nearly every day. For example, in the early days of pandemic life I had the idea I would paint rocks. It seemed like a great way to use up some of my nervous energy and share a little splash of joy by leaving them around my neighborhood. The truth is, though, painting rocks is much like hurry up and wait. You paint one side and you can’t turn it over because it’s wet! And thus my flirtation with being crafty in the Pinterest sense would be thwarted time and again. I’d get all jazzed up about it and then end up right back in the same spot with a rock that was half gray limestone and the other half wet paint. It was like being perpetually stuck in the night before Christmas, a whole lot of energy revving and the process not moving any faster.
I took another spin at it again over the weekend and let me sum it up with: I have about 10 half painted rocks and my inspiration and motivation are swimming with the fish. This is frequently my experience with arts and crafts. I get all excited. I buy the paint. I buy the canvas, the brushes etc. and then there’s all this drying time. All that waiting is painful for me. What am I supposed to do with that time? I can’t work up any momentum or inspiration. I rather felt like Sisyphus perpetually painting one side of a rock but never getting to the other side. At this rate, I may complete a rock by 2022.
This is why they say strike while the iron is hot. You never know when the muse is going to visit and I, for one, cannot wait for the paint to slow dry while she’s making her brief but glimmering visit. Creating art of any kind requires just the right circumstances for the constitution of the artist. It appears I am not a painter. I like my art to be nimble and agile, that’s how I feel about words. They can arrive into my mind anytime they want and I don’t have to wait for the ink to dry to turn the page. I used to say that I wasn’t crafty, I wasn’t artistic but that’s just because my definition of what it meant to be an artist was too narrow. I told myself that story about myself so many times I began to believe it. I think many of us have similar stories rolling around in our heads and these stories run roughshod over our creative muse.
What do you enjoy doing that feels creative? Maybe you love to cook or bake, who says that’s not art? Maybe you mow your grass in such a way that makes the neighbors take notice… Yep, that’s art, too.
While we are still spending more time in this less-than-paradisey pandemic, maybe you could give some thought and energy to where the muse lands for you.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G