The world feels like it's being shattered like glass on concrete. Covid rages but selfishness abounds, so many refusing to stop its spread. Homegrown terrorists calling themselves patriots have stormed the White House. The current president represents the worst of us, duping half and thumbing his nose at the other half. Families are splintered in all kinds of directions. Blame games are played at every level of society and the idea of "everybody getting together and trying to love one another, right now," a popular anthem performed the year I was born by a folk band called the Kingston Trio, seems impossibly naive. How do you stabilize yourself in such a world to create art?
The thing is that the naive anthem mention above has carved into my creative psyche through the years. The only way to move forward is to cast aside fear. Personally, I've never lived in a more fearful time. All you have to do is whisper a vague possibility of an unclear threat to send people skittering in every direction. The grocery store was stripped of items again and no wondering is necessary, many whisper that next week will lead to blood running on the streets of "the greatest country on God's green Earth." Picking up your pen and writing your words this week will be hard. Playing your music, hard. Creating your art, hard. But choosing your inherent ability to create is siding with the angels of this world. Turn off the discordant voices and be a voice of peace. Make a stand against fear.
As fear sounds off every mountain, stirring up hate, you have the opportunity to shake off the madness. Use your art to stamp on fear. Dance until you can't breathe anymore. Slip through the portal into your other world and take down those baddies however you see fit. Isekai your way to something better. Art is the chance to be reborn. Let yourself feel the creative forces of the universe and watch the paltry fear fade into a distant haze. Stare into the light of good. Sow goodness and mercy morning, noon, and night. Don't sink into apathy. Heavens above, even though it feels like your veins are filled with sludge, don't let the monsters of this age steal the treasure of your art.
In this time of "look at me, hear my voice," listen for the quiet voices that don't bring the hurricane, that don't bring fire, and that don't bring earthquakes. Remember the madwoman who saw fame as a fickle food that men ate and then died. Think of the Gallilee carpenter who spoke of the blessed souls: the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the merciful, the pure, the peacemakers, the persecuted. A motley crew, basically a band of flotsam and jetsom. Join the blessed with your art. Create the stuff you will be insulted for. Create the stuff that you will be persecuted for. Create the good, good stuff that you will be called evil for.
The image of the creator is within us all. Remember that as you look at each face. Do the work of sanity in the madness around us. Keep talking. Feel what you need feel, but then work. Still struggling? Find a solid tree to sit under. Trees never get to take a step, but in their own way are arguing with their neighbors and reaching for the stars. Lean against that rough bark and think about the rough bark protecting you. Think about the roots holding this tree to the ground. Think about the gold leaves of spring that furl into the green leaves of summer, and fade back to gold leaves of fall to stark branches of winter. You are the art tree. If a windstorm, snowfall, or mudslide has taken you out, you will lay on your side and every bit you will be used to enrich the next forest to spring out of the seeds you scattered before you fell. Cling to what lasts in the mad, mad world and work.
Now take on kindness. What kindness can you swirl into the patterns you create? Let go of your anger and animosity. Stop belittling humans with your fear-driven hate, regardless of the hate they are flinging at you. Open the doors you have shut. You have something to add to the creative canon. Nothing kills creativity like grudges and ill-will. Do yourself a favor and go to the ocean and cast a stone into the sea. Now see imagine an ocean without end, one of love. No matter how hot you are about whatever has happened to you. The sea will put out that fire. It will polish the dull surfaces of you. That love will make what is broken right. That ocean is deeper than infinity.
It's time to let go. You know the debts you have accrued in this life. Time to take your ledgers and burn them in the woodstove. Know the Logos that brought us into the light for this moment and this time has covered all the debts. The universe is counting on you. Your art springs out of the ether of imagination. Your art is bigger than madness. Set it free. Good news, art comes with wings. Wheel high above the mortal earth and fly. I hope these words help you steady yourself. Take what you need to stabilize your craft.
Here is a quote for your pocket.
“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” Bertrand Russell