Happy COVID-iversary. This newsletter should have come out yesterday. In the four and a half years that I have been publishing it, I have always sent it out on the second Thursday of the month. But, I couldn’t do it yesterday. I couldn’t do much yesterday actually. I don’t think that I recognized how much I was affected by the realization that we’ve spent a full year now in isolation until burnout hit me in a big way yesterday. For perhaps the first time in my life, I gave myself the permission to give in to the burnout rather than trying to fight through it. I did sit in on the meetings I was supposed to attend, but when they were over I sat on my deck and opened a new book to read. Fiction. I didn’t read the newspaper. I didn’t read any of the important books about racism. I didn’t even read about promoting creativity. I just read a novel.
Today dawned a new day, a better day. I actually woke up with the sun today and sat again on my deck, this time reading Create Dangerously: The Power and Responsibility of the Artist by Albert Camus. I admit that much of it was too deep for a 6 AM COVID burnout read, but I will share the concluding paragraph:
We may hope, of course, as I do, for smaller flames, a moment of respite, a pause that will allow us to dream again. But perhaps there is no peace for an artist other than the peace found in the heat of combat. “Every wall is a door,” Emerson rightly said. Do not seek the door, or the way out anywhere but in the wall that surrounds us. On the contrary, let us seek respite wherever it exists, that is, in the very heart of the battle. For in my opinion, and this is where I will conclude, that is where the respite can be found. It is said that great ideas come to the world on the wings of a dove. And so, perhaps, if we listen closely, amid the din of empires and nations, we might hear the faint sound of beating wings, the sweet stirrings of life and hope. Some will say that such hope is carried by a nation, others by a person. But I believe quite the reverse: hope is awakened, given life, sustained, by the millions of individuals whose deeds and actions, every day, break down borders and refute the worst moments in history, to allow the truth — which is always in danger — to shine brightly, even if only fleetingly, the truth, which every individual builds for us all, created out of suffering and joy.
I believe fully that your art, that my art provides a respite, not just for those who create it, but for those who experience it. It offers us the solace that comes from the act of creating and to others it gives the solace that comes from beauty or from a recognition of shared suffering. But, creating, especially now, is not easy. There is no door to creativity through which we can easily pass. Instead, we must turn, put on our armor, and charge straight into the heat of the battle. We must wield our brushes though they feel so heavy to pick up. That’s what I intend to do today. I rested yesterday and prepared for battle. Today, I charge forth into the fray to create because I know that it is ACTION that will bring respite from the suffering of the last year. I am tired of sitting helplessly on the sidelines and am ready to take charge of my art. Who’s with me?
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