If there's one thing you get time for in a global pandemic, it's time to think and reflect. Also more time to talk, to write and to create.
Last year I wasn't very well - I lost my mojo and with that a sense of who I was so I lost my voice. For a while I couldn't see what it was all for - I couldn't value myself within society, my values didn't fit with those being voiced around me. All my life I have strived to create - not only art - but create something good, to speak for creativity - and to value all that is created. I was raised to grow food, to plant seeds, to respect Mother Nature. But as time went on, my hopes and ambitions seemed surplus to requirements - my light got dimmed.
Last year, 2019, there were continued challenges to what my aspirations were for my country and my planet. The big questions constantly asked to be answered but progress wasn't being made. I watched Greta Thunberg call again and again on our leaders to draw down on Capitalism and to protect our human future. I straddled both worlds - where I made some sacrifices but also where I knew that I had allowed myself off the hook - become lazy - decided it was someone else's challenge.
I was glad to turn the page of the calendar in to 2020. Although tired of Brexit talks - and not in agreement with leaving the EU - it was time to step forward - to deal with what was to come. And then along came Covid-19, a global pandemic. I had just got my new year resolutions under way - just rekindled the energy to run my creative business. And then we were into unknown territory. All my life I have reflected on what my grandparents went through in the war and felt fortunate to have lived in peace time. I've always known that there could be a major challenge to our Western way of life - so full of excess and greed. I think I thought it would come from the fall out of Brexit, and global warming.
The first few weeks as the Covid-19 crisis unfolded, I lived in shock. I was tired out watching the news and wondering how this would effect us all as the schools and economy closed down. I listened to the health warnings for the elderly and worried for our parents. I knew though that as a self-employed artist a shut down of the economy would be disastrous for my business. Along with every one else I heeded the advice to Stay home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives. I cancelled workshops, teaching days, mentoring appointments. I shelved projects and stayed inside. There I was safe. And there I found myself - I baked - perfecting my sourdough baking skills - I pulled projects out of the cupboard and put time into completing them. We built a polytunnel in the garden and got growing. I realised I liked this slower pace of living.
My community rallied around - I asked if my followers could make a purchase - however small- and I was really touched by the response. I felt valued. Many emailed and suggested ways I could keep some income - ideas for creative Zoom meet ups and online classes. Having spent so much of last year wanting to put all the pieces of my life down and be someone else - I suddenly felt that all my life had led me to this moment. Now that my livelihood was challenged, I realised that I really wanted my business, my creativity - my creative connections - I wanted it more than ever.
I felt I had a purpose - in the midst of this enormous challenge to humanity - I had creativity that I could share. It felt strange to acknowledge my talents - but I realised I had built a business that was flexible - that I could refocus my plans for 2020. I am under no illusions here - front line workers are keeping us with access to food, safe and protected - and yet my gifts that had previously seemed surplus to the requirements of fast paced Western capitalist society, suddenly seemed more valuable than ever.
So - to my title - Creativity in Crisis. What part does creativity play at a time like this? It fosters hope for a start - you can't create without hope - and it opens the soul for change. It allows us to experiment and play - not focussed on fixed outcomes, but on the possibilities and potentialities for life - our own and for our world. In accepting that, I think we become more playful - change will come and we can adapt. It's been odd talking to my children and not being able to give them any finite answers, "When will school start again Mum" - I don't know. I offer possible scenarios. And that's been the joy of lockdown - embracing potential. It is liberating to know that there isn't only one way - there are many, many solutions to the world's current problems.
For my business that has meant a return to creating online courses - in a time when others are remembering their own creativity - slowing and making time for lost loves. It has been a time for saying 'My superpower is....' as we all embrace who we are and what we have to offer each other. It has been a time of levelling - we are all affected and we all have responsibility to help each other - all cogs in the wheel of humanity. So what I hope for more than anything is a return to more creative living - moving beyond hierarchy and fixed outcomes - that soon there will be a new dawning and realisation of our human potential to work together. Whilst in this limbo of lockdown, we can dream.
And just to conclude, my superpower is nurturing creativity - I believe that everyone can create.