This week, I got Neghar Fonooni's book, This Is Just What It's Like Sometimes, and I'm once again in awe of an artist channeling personal devastation into creative gold. There are a lot of conversations to be had about the intersection of pain and art. Creative work can be an incredibly healing way to process the trauma life hands us, but sometimes I wonder how much inspiration we would have for art without pain and chaos. There's something that feels sinister about offering up work laced with our trauma, but there's nothing more triumphant than creative rising. We claim our history instead of hiding from it, and in turn it becomes a beacon for others.
This is why I've had Beyonce's album Lemonade on repeat for at least the last 3 years.
So what can we, in the middle of this messy global chaos, take from our foremothers? How can we take our fear, anger, and lack of control, and build a memorial for our sisters and daughters, showing them they too can overcome hard things? How do we move through our days of uncertainty, choosing to stay open, choosing connection, choosing hope?
Let me say this, if your life has been by some magic smooth sailing until now, and this is your first big shake up, you're in for a wild ride. Heck, we all are, no matter how many iterations of chaos we've lived through there's always something destabilizing and disorienting that comes up in the next. However, the more we practice intentional emotional hygiene, and the stronger connection we build with our inner creatives, the easier it gets. It's never easy, but it does get easier.
Now is the time to lean into our chosen spiritual and intuitive practices. It's time to ground ourselves in our rituals. Yesterday I shared a video that talked about how we may need to be apart due to social distancing precautions or quarantines, but we don't have to be alone. This is so important as we navigate new ways of connecting that keep us and others safe.
The videos coming out of Italy showing those in quarantine singing and playing instruments from balconies is a perfect example of this, as are my yoga teacher friends closing their studios, but offering online classes. We can still have (remote) book clubs, church services, jam sessions, coffee dates, and happy hours. We have the technology to get creative with our forms of connection, let's use it. These are our tools for staying present, for finding our next right step. This is how we build resilience. We hold space for the hard things, and we still seek out joy. The beautiful thing about this time in history is how we choose to show up will be incredibly intentional.
Resilience isn't built from easy. If we've never encountered a challenge in life, we'll have no idea how to respond when one arrives. Resilience is built from rising to meet successions of challenges, each one more intentionally than the last. Resilience comes when we learn to adapt and evolve while safeguarding the most vital parts of ourselves.
I know, this all sounds very cerebral, when we're dealing with such tactile problems. It may feel out of touch for me to hypothesize about resilience when we can't find toilet paper or lysol wipes at the store. When we're on day five or ten or fifteen of being cooped up in a house with our kids, while "working from home." Or when we are still working at a job that refuses to shut down, constantly worried that we could be passing an invisible virus to others, low key jealous of the folks who have simple directions outlined to stay safe. Those of us with mental illnesses may be dealing with limited access to some of our tried and true coping mechanisms which is destabilizing and scary. The very fabric of our society is being reworked and rewoven - which is traumatic and painful and frightening, but it also holds immense potential.
Because we, in our separate homes, trying not to kill our kids who are bouncing off the walls, have the opportunity of reworking and reweaving our social consciousness.
Think about that for a moment. The work you're putting into the world right now, whether it's in your Instagram stories, or on your blog, or in virtual classes MATTER SO MUCH. It matters, because all of our magic together holds the power to create a kinder, more empathetic, and honest reality for all of us.
So take that frustration, fear, overwhelm, and anxiety, and as Neghar would say, allow it to transmute into creative work. You are the conduit.
When all else fails, and you can't see a path through, may I suggest making literally anything. Pick up a hobby, do something with your hands. Pull a journal or a notebook out, and notice how it feels to scritch a pen across it, to doodle, draw, or write words. Teach yourself an instrument, learn to build, or garden, or sew. Take a dance class, on youtube if you need to. Find a channel to your inner creative, and they will guide you.
I can't wait to see what we create together.