Creation in the Time of Corona

It’s cliched at this point

– to take the title “Love in the Time of Cholera” and replace the word “Love” for some article about adjusting to the unprecedented nature of this pandemic. Everybody has tuned in with their opinions about the current situation. There is little left to say.

I am grateful for my own current situation. I am not lacking in food. My loved ones and I are healthy. I am not trying to figure out how to keep a sinking business afloat. I’ve had my share of difficulties, but nothing compared to the hardships many others faced.

There are so many think-pieces floating around all claiming that the way we connect to one another is being redefined. Creators are using the internet to share skills and art at no cost. Just something to help with the isolation, to re-connect, and show some humanity. It’s admirable, yet it seems like the least a person can do when faced with a surplus of time and a lack of immediate catastrophe.

My circumstances are such that I can go to sleep with the peace of mind that tomorrow, and the foreseeable tomorrows, will likely be alright. So, I’ve done my best to push myself to develop myself and still connect with others.

But I’ve gotta be honest, there’s a toll that comes being aware of suffering and feeling that there’s not much I can do. One of my former students recently passed away from COVID, shy of turning twenty. It’s heartbreaking. It’s relentless. It’s senseless.

I am seeing pain and loss from a measured distance and all the while trying to push myself to be better and do the things that I always wanted to but ended up chalking it up to lack of time. I’ve had nothing but time lately, but this experience has robbed me of a certain creative spark.

I am so thankful for those that are able to give in these times. People who are reaching out and connecting to others, creating beautiful things, and making their work accessible. I am so thankful for those who have donated their time, efforts, and money to those in need and I have tried to do so. Engaging in practical efforts to help others and myself cope and heal has been crucial during these months – but creating is far from practical.

As someone who considers creating an essential part of how I view myself and connect to others, I am now faced with a certain crisis. It feels selfish to create, hollow even. I see the value of it, for sure. I know that people need art in uncertain and stressful times more than ever. There’s a nagging part of me, though, that tells me that nothing creative I can offer is of any value at the moment.

In times like this, I wish I had more to offer to others, and I wish I had more to offer myself.

I can’t deny that creation is a necessary salve for me. It always has been. At the same time, a part of my brain is eager to dismiss creation as selfish and frivolous in the time of Coronavirus. As I write these words I know I’m betraying the heart of “The Little Prince,” one of my favorite stories. I’m sorry Little Prince. I’ll try to do better, at least for the sake of my inner child.

The creative process is a form of necessary fulfillment for me. I can’t forget that. No matter the product or audience, there’s an indispensable optimism in not giving up on passion projects or playful doodles.

Cheers to Maxine Hong Kingston’s simple maxim, “In a time of destruction, create something.”

We should all aspire to do so much.

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