Some days, it’s hard to make sense of the world. The past few months have been particularly difficult and unsettling.
Floods. Hurricanes. Fires. Shootings. Assaults. Terrorism. Plagues (seriously, see Madagascar). Ongoing political and social divisions. It’s like we have a collective case of PTSD. Our senses are on high alert.
I feel it. You probably feel it. And chances are, your audiences feel it too.
I’ve felt pretty powerless about it all. Thoughts, prayers, donations and money seem disproportionately inadequate when the problems are so vast and the effects are so devastating.
The last few months have been an emotional reckoning on several fronts. But, for me, one event in particular rocked me to the core.
Those that know me well know that there’s no place I’d rather be than Sonoma County, California. I lived there for several years, and hope to again some day.
Sonoma County is not my hometown, but it is my heartland. My identity is still wrapped up in my ideas about this place. So, as the fires raged, it felt as if my dreams were being torched to the ground.
I feel guilty talking about my pain. No one in my family died. All my friends are safe. My pets are home napping in sunbeams. And my home is fully intact. But, still, I feel a deep loss and a need to grieve.
I spent the week of the fires in disbelief and horror, checking on friends. I followed it by a weekend of wallowing. I canceled plans and curled up in my favorite chair. I binge-watched The Handmaid’s Tale and ate way too many Pop Chips. I washed it all down with my favorite Sonoma County zinfandel from Truett Hurst; after all, I need to show my solidarity and support.
By the end of the weekend, I was sick and tired of feeling broken. I needed to rally. So I did what I do in times of desperation, and turned to the poetry of Rumi. I quickly landed on this verse: “Don’t you know yet? It is your light that lights the world.”
I hate to think what would have happened had Rumi not written those lines —if he hadn’t shared his creativity with the world. I, like many others, continue to be healed and inspired by his words.
That verse got me thinking. Maybe creativity is our “light” that lights the world. Maybe it is our gift to give in times of darkness. Like Rumi, maybe we can help others by expressing our creativity.
Of course, we can’t all be Rumi. There was only one Rumi, just like there’s only one you and one me. But we can choose to be courageous in the same way he was courageous. We can chose to be generous and give our audiences a piece of ourselves, and we can choose to share what’s in our heart as well as our heads.
For those of us in the creative industry, this could be the answer to the question “What more can I do to help?” With the right mindset and the right intention, we can create experiences that transcend the darkness, the pain, and the stress of the moment.
During difficult times, we need to feel a connection to something greater. Something hopeful. Now more than ever, we need beauty. We need creativity. We need design. The world is calling on us to be more creative. Right now, this is our greatest purpose.
Take a look at how creativity and art have been described by some of the master practitioners. And think about what that means in terms of what’s happening in the world.
We possess art lest we perish from the truth. – Friedrich Nietzsche
Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. – Pablo Picasso
Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. – Thomas Merton
Art has something to do with stillness in the midst of chaos. – Saul Bellow
The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do? What else can you do for anyone but inspire them? – Bob Dylan
If you consider yourself a creative professional, it’s important to embrace the idea that you are also an artist. Art is more than the “fine arts” or “performing arts” that we study in school. It’s like Seth Godin explains: “Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map—these are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use a computer, or work with others all day long.”
Art is powerful; it provides:
- A sense of connection
- Exposure to powerful emotions, including catharsis
- Startling and profound discoveries
- Inspiration and new ideas
- A sense of where we are in relation to the past, the future and everyone else on the planet
- A sense of order in the midst of chaos
- Hope and optimism
- An alternative perspective
Whether your next creative endeavor is a print ad, a product launch or a LinkedIn status update, you have the choice to approach it like an artist. You can chose to help, entertain, inspire and heal.
We need to uplift others by being generous with our creativity. We need to express it consistently, not just when it’s part of a project or assignment, but as often as possible—because it matters, and because we care. Creativity is not something to hang onto or be selfish about, it’s something to be shared.
Art, by its very nature, has the power to alchemize pain and transform our suffering. If we approach our creative work with the mindset of an artist, maybe, just maybe, we can shine some light into the darkness.
What do you think? Will you join us?
P.S. If you need help bringing any of your creative sparks to life, please let us know. The important thing isn’t to connect with us, it’s to connect with your inner artist and your fellow human beings. We’re just here for added support. And who doesn’t need a little added support and encouragement?
Concord Creative produces visual and physical art for brands, designers and creative teams. We leverage design, photography and fabrication to create images, environments, sets, interiors and scenery that audiences love.