In times of uncertainty – how creativity can help

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. 

Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.” James Baldwin

Vietnamese man meditating in mud

Hey folks,

How are you today? 

It’s Diana here, hello 🙂 

Today many of us in the world are in the flux of the feeling of uncertainty and fear. Justified or unjustified fear, to me that is not the point. 

The point is how we all live through these times, or any times, that bring up so many feelings of uncertainty and instability. 

How do we live with the challenges that life brings us? And it doesn’t have to be a global virus, but all of the other things that life throws at us – the death of loved ones, financial problems, political problems in our respective countries. You know what I mean.

How do we live well in these times when we feel challenged, and how can we do more to make sure our days are good and positive and feel like we aren’t just feeling that sense of contraction and fear that challenges bring. 

Ultimately, after dealing with the practical aspects of our lives, our creativity practices are the things that Anthony and I turn to to bring in feelings of expanse and joy. 

We want to use our creative practices to gain more perspective so that we aren’t just making our lives about the challenges we are facing. 

One of the reasons that doing something creative brings good things into your life is simply because: 

“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.”

Neil Gaiman

And also because, and I share another quote from my favourite writer James Baldwin because he had so much to share about the interminginly of creativity and the challenges of life: 

“The precise role of the artist, then, is to illuminate that darkness, blaze roads through that vast forest, so that we will not, in all our doing, lose sight of its purpose, which is, after all, to make the world a more human dwelling place.” 

I would like to share a few of the reasons and ideas that make creativity so fruitful and helpful for our lives in times of unpredictability – I hope these are of help or service to you. 

Creativity is a way to work things out

We humans like to figure things out. We like to know why things are the way they are. And facing the challenges we feel head on are ways to work through the fears that may stick in our minds. 

“We are born makers. We move what we’re learning from our heads to our hearts through our hands.” Brene Brown

A perfect example is why I felt the desire to write this post. It is not just to share my thoughts with you, but by exploring these thoughts and writing about them, I am working things out myself. 

Another example is a photographer who captured the eerily empty city of Shanghai during the outbreak. 

We can use the environment we encounter to create things. To process what we might be feeling. 

It’s about not letting things get stuck in your brain, or just complaining or freaking out. It is using the conduit of creativity to find a positive way to deal with the challenges. 

To allow us the chance to see other possibilities

For me being creative is about bringing me away from the big, sometimes anxious things,  and down into the beauty and joy of the moment.

“Every day we slaughter our finest impulses. That is why we get a heartache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty.” Henry Miller

Bringing calm to our minds and bodies

Being creative is often compared to meditation as we get lost in the task,  and the nature of getting lost in something is so positive that it has a calming effect on our nervous systems. 

“The average person has about 60,000 thoughts in a day. A creative act such as crafting can help focus the mind, and has even been compared to meditation due to its calming effects on the brain and body. Even just gardening or sewing releases dopamine, a natural anti-depressant.” Forbes Magazine

To engage our imaginations and go beyond ourselves

Being creative is like a lot of things that release us from the tightness of stress – exercise, meditation, laughing with friends. It creates good chemicals within our brains. It makes us happier, more joyful. 

Being creative can help us accept what the world and its challenges are.

As the poet Mary Oliver said so beautifully:

“You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.”

Exploring the experience and finding something beautiful or good

We can only control what’s here right now in our lives in our immediate experience. But we can bring more of the good and positive and nourishing into our lives. 

And that is partly why the photos of Anthony’s that I have included in this article are all about the small and mundane, the beauty of the ordinary.

The glory of light. 

The pretty etherealness of spring flowers. 

The tactile gorgeousness of textures on a wall.

Bringing it back to this day to day. The magic of this ordinary day.

Ultimately we want to see beyond what is stressing us and provoking fear in our environment. 

“As human beings, not only do we seek resolution, but we also feel that we deserve resolution. However, not only do we not deserve resolution, we suffer from resolution. 

We don’t deserve resolution; we deserve something better than that. We deserve our birthright, which is the middle way, an open state of mind that can relax with paradox and ambiguity.” Pema Chödrön

I hope these have given you a few little ideas of what you can do to reach beyond fear and uncertainty with your creativity.

I’d love to know what you thought – hit reply and tell me.