Art in the time of Covid

This topic was presented to me the other day. If I’m honest, this topic has been tossed my way on more than one occasion since March of 2020. How do you create when the world feels as if it’s crumbling around you? So, I thought I’d write about it.


The real question is: How do you do anything outside of running the motions of day to day survival?


If you do a google search, myriad posts with resources, tips, and tricks to get you back at it, bullet points on what to write about, and on and on will pop up. But do they actually provide answers? I guess. They say something — I didn’t find any of them helpful. Mostly I found them to create more anxiety.
So I ignored them.


For me, these last eight months have been an emotional roller coaster in every aspect of my life. Like so many others, I lost my job. For the first time in all of my years of working, I applied for unemployment. My son no longer goes to school. His last year of fifth grade was meant to end in fanfare with a send-off celebration and a special yearbook (that he never received); instead, it ended in tears. My husband has been working from home. Gone are the days of teaching yoga. Gone are the days of writing at 5am Writers Clubs — because I can’t get out of bed. Gone are my morning/afternoons of writing, plotting, editing, researching — basically being a writer.


The life I had was lost.


Then all the internal changes began. Did I even want the life I had? Did that life make me happy? Was I running through the motions back then, or am I now — or am I running through the motions of my life in general?


It was a real-time Waking Life — Existential — I got drunk/high for the first time and saw god in the broken tail light of my best friends Buick — crisis; but now, I was having it as an adult, sober, while doing a YouTube HIIT class in the small space between the end of my bed and the wall.

Do I really miss the students who go above and beyond to correct me while I’m teaching? Nope. Do I miss being in traffic? Nope. Do I miss carving up my writing time to construct classes? Nope. Do I miss my seniors? Yes. Because they’re fun. 80-year-olds are fun. If you disagree, you need to talk to more 80-year-olds.


My exercise routine went from 2-3 times a week to 2-3 times a day. My best days are a solid 1.5-2 hours stretches. This is when I have my most significant “moments.” This is when I can think without interruptions.


This was when I had my “how to create art during a pandemic” moment. It went a little like this:


I’ve been writing for my whole life — but I have always found a reason not to write. Pre-child, it was because I was socializing too much. Post child it was because of the child — and I still was socializing too much. Then we moved to Los Angeles, and my first round of isolation began. 2011.


This was my first time genuinely dealing with isolation — the only human contact I had for more than a couple hours at the beginning and end of the day was my 3-year-old. This isolation lasted nearly three years until he started Kindergarten. Then, his isolation ended. Mine lingered.
Because after three years of living inside your own head — it’s really, really hard to get out. (I learned to hate myself on levels I didn’t know existed. I was never good enough. I was never smart enough. I was never skinny enough. Fun enough. Witty enough. Never watched the right shows/tv. Never read the right books/poems/essays. Never.)

Most of 2018 & 2019 were spent fixing all of those Nevers. Then Covid hit — but Now I knew better.


Those three+ years are what I reference as an emotional gauge during this time of Covid. I watched myself shrivel into prune of my old self the last time around — as I lost total confidence in who I was and what I wanted — I kept a journal (mental and physical) documenting this dive into the underworld of my brain. Now, I refer back to those moments so I don’t do that again. Now, I know there is another end of the tunnel — because I walked through it before.

These bits of knowledge have kept me from totally drowning this time around. Also, one thing that is majorly different during this period of isolation is, I know I’m not alone in it. It’s more challenging to accept isolation when others are so free and moving around. During Covid I know in my cells we’re all in this shit-show together.


I am not alone.
You are not alone.


But how does any of that help you create? It doesn’t.
Are there ways to help you create? I’ve found two:

1 – You must grieve. All of the steps. You need to cry. You need to get angry. You need to accept you can’t change things. You have to let go. You have to move on. Until you can move on – you need to repeat the steps. You need to GRIEVE. Completely. Totally. 100%. Cry. Cry until you can’t any more. Then cry again.

2 – You need to accept that without control — all you can do is be. Be in this moment. Think about the things you would normally not think about. How things piss you off. What things trigger you. When do you do your best creating?

There is no contest or competition. The only person you’re competing against is yourself. And, this is a big one, if you still can’t create — it doesn’t matter. You’re still an artist. You’re still a creator. You’re still you. We all have our own process at writing, creating, living, being — honor it. Embrace it.

So, back to the top: How do you do anything outside of running the motions of day to day survival? You breathe. You live in this moment, not one from last year, not one that might be in your future–you embrace the heck of RIGHT NOW. And if you end up writing — good job you!! And if you don’t — good job you! Because you’ve made it this far. You’ll make it farther. I promise. You’re not alone.

xo-AS

Dreams. Dreams. Dreams.

pexels-photo-267684

Once upon a time, there was a woman, and she had dreams…

Dreams. Dreams. Dreams.

She loved to soak herself in them like the warmest, most perfect bath, ever drawn.

Dreams. Dreams. Dreams.

Wisps of them–the dreams–wafted off her much like morning dew on a warm summers morning. She loved every second of them. Every single moment of those dreams. They were her happiness.

Then, one day, she realized the world was changing around her. A society that once felt forever stagnate and motionless spun and turn like a possessed top. While she was still tethered to her dreams (dreams. dreams. dreams.) Their tails wrapped around the ball of life, a long, twisted bit of twine created a tangled ring of all her moments in time.

Of all those dreams…

Until she felt stuck.

The dreams that once felt as silky as honeysuckles on a humid night’s breeze transformed. Sweetness went sour. Silk became burlap.

You may think the spinning whipped and turned her around. The tether lassoed to her ankle, wrist, heart–pulled her from her origins, thrusting her into the world. They didn’t. She was a damsel tied to the railroad tracks–a locomotive barreling down on her.

She knew it was wrong. All of it, but she’d become too obsessed, confused, disoriented to begin to understand what was happening. Especially, now… without her:

Dreams.

Dreams.

Dreams.

But one day, a notion dawned upon her. A perfect ‘a-ha’ moment pushed her through the clouds of her mind. What she figured out was none of it is real.

The tether.

The spinning globe.

The disorientation.

They were all illusions conjured by the most wicked evil maker of them all–herself.

…dreams…dreams…dreams…

She’d become so concerned with the outside perception of her she’d neglected her truth. That neglect led to her forgetting who she was and accidentally distanced herself from those                                            dreams.

The moment expanded, growing like a bubble stuck to the tip of a child’s plastic wand. Rainbows and stripes of swirling color encased her. She was the nucleus. She was the yoke floating in the center of it all. And just outside the thin veil separating her from those awful thoughts and her truth–were those dreams.

(dreams. dreams. dreams.)

She knew, while she stared through the stained glass coloring her vision, life was what she decided it to be. She was the creator of her illusion and understood what she stared at the longest became her truth.

Her fingers uncoiled and the tethers released–completely.                                                      Her dreams. All of those…             Dreams. Dreams. Dreams.

Caught in an upward current, floating high above.                                                                                                    Each dream holding every desire she’d ever harbored–bobbing reminders of who, and what, she was.

She was herself. Perfect and true.

She was the right amount of everything because she could never be her or her or even him. And her dreams… all of those dreams! (dreams. dreams. dreams.) kept her afloat and moving forward–high above everything trying to hold her back. High above herself.

The End

 

What, you may ask, is the moral of the story? Simple. You are never too old to dream. Your dreams are valid. Just because someone else doesn’t understand your dreams will never and can never diminish your dreams. And even if your first had your dream many years ago doesn’t mean it’s not the right dream because dreams don’t have expiration dates–they only fade if we give up on them.

You are perfect just as you are.