Once we accept our limits, we go beyond them.
As members of society, we are attached to certain strings – to behavioral agreements essential to reasonable group co-operation. As individual members of our families, of our friend and interest groups, of communities, of towns, states, nations and of the global world in a time of Coronavirus COVID-19, we try to adhere to the best guidelines of dealing with an ever-evolving and unfamiliar situation. It is now a time for solitude, solidarity and for working hard towards our shared interests.
How grateful I am to all those courageous and selfless healthcare workers who are everyday, putting themselves in the frontlines! How grateful I am also, to all those who are stocking our store shelves, delivering orders, keeping our cities clean and running efficiently! There are just so many people to thank including all those individuals and organizations who, with their generous donations, have committed to the helping of the now-jobless and to providing food for them and their children, now out of school.
And how grateful I am for the extraordinary knowledge of those with expertise in online communication, online commerce, innovation, information and social connectivity during these times! How much easier our adjustment has been to these new challenges because of the individual and collective knowledge of those in the digitally interrelated fields! Is this the way of the future? Certainly new and efficient methods of engagement are evolving and knocking – digitally, on our screens and I for one, am embracing them. We are working well together!
I wrote about collaborative creativity in my book: HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HUNCH? The Importance of Creative Thinking: “Because of the grave, political, social, and environmental problems we face today, it is essential to work together collaboratively; many minds make light work as long as these minds belong to intelligent, independent and creative thinkers.”
So why collaborate? Because it can be an enriching detour on the way to individual creativity, or, in fact, the path to individual creativity.
And what is individual creativity in the time of a global pandemic? Just what are individuals currently doing in this time of social isolation? I think a new kind of Rorschach InkBlot test has been born. What do you do with your time when suddenly you have many more hours alone at home or many more hours with your family? The people I have spoken to – on the phone of course – or via e-communication – are spending their time doing different things.
I think what people do with this found time, tells us (and them) a lot about who each individual really is as well as the state of the psyche of a society now facing the unknown. Are individuals and groups pulling together as a whole? Are they, instead, only choosing to play the blame game, reluctant to move forward together out of the gloomasphere? THE WORLD OF GLIMPSE. Sociologists, philosophers and psychologists will have a great deal of material to explore about the individual and collective psyche for years to come. Is life about ME or is it about WE? And who are we?
So who am I? What are my deep interests. What are yours? Artist and writer, Jill Glenn in her self-quarantined state is engaged in several new projects: She has just completed going through the entire Thesaurus, listing words that resonate with her before incorporating them into her writing and art. Dede Harris is completing her next children’s book, MRS DEDE AND MR SAM, and also combining the three books that comprise her Holocaust Trilogy into one. Sam Harris is currently building and together with Dede, painting planter boxes for their deck. They are also using different size gourds and fiber clay to create a chess set. Psychiatrist Dr Judy Engelman, who is on the faculty of the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, is doing tele-psychiatry to help people who are experiencing emotional distress during these very hard times. She is also completing her much-anticipated book – which will be needed by virtually all – titled: SURVIVING IS ONLY THE BEGINNING: 5 STEPS FROM TRAUMA TO TRIUMPH.
Eric Cosh is creating family video biographical movies – in fact, currently, doing one about me for my family and friends. One of my friends, Esther, is “reading great minds” while simultaneously sorting through “treasures” and deciding if perhaps they are not treasurers after all, but “junk”. Many are writing poems, rediscovering poems that they had written, or sharing poems that feel relevant to our times. Juanita Havill is both conjuring up and completing a number of poems and stories. KT La Salla has created a new dance while another, Maryanne Kremer-Ames, continues to teach guitar online. You can check her out on Maryanne’s Guitar and Percussion Lessons on Thumbtack. Allen Ames is at work making a Violira on commission. Another is cooking surprise meals for family and friends and leaving it for them at their front doors. Photographer Silvio Rone continues to work on his eye-catching and emotive portrait photography, while Lorita Winfield photographs flora images of beauty that give her joy. Interestingly, many people I know are busy tidying their homes! And British-South African Paleobotanist John Anderson is completing his Molteno Volume. Interestingly, many people I know are busy tidying their homes!
And from your now tidy – or never-will-be-tidy-enough homes, you presently have the opportunity of becoming a member from where ever you happen to be living, of the Phoenix-based, one-of-a-kind Spirit of the Senses – salons which have been stimulating people for over 37 years.
I have been a member for at least 10 years. It’s truly a university without walls and one of the nicest things for me is that I learn so much about, it seems, everything – and I am not quizzed!
Now, because of the COVID-19, Thomas Houlon and Patty Barnes also provide Spirit of the Senses “in-person salons” – online video salons. So wherever you happen to be living, you can become a member and learn so much! I most certainly am benefiting from these online salons and even though now I might be “socially distanced,” I remain intellectually stimulated and connected.
There are people who are using their aloneness – which is different to loneliness – thoughtfully and productively. They are not fearing it. “There are many people who have a fear of solitude, of being alone with themselves, of questioning, attending to and assuming responsibility for their inner motivations. Aloneness allows thinking”. “HAVE YOU EVER HAD A HUNCH? The Importance of Creative Thinking”. Social distancing has not only allowed for more thinking time but it has also engendered a heart-warming flurry of e-communication and t-communication (telephone).
So what am I doing?
Keeping abreast of the news, certainly, as I always do, and focusing greatly on the COVID-19. However, I also have many projects (naturally) lined up to do over the next few months and so I have prioritized them in this order and already, I have started:
1. I have completed going through many of my photographs starting with babyhood, my years in South Africa, my life in Europe and then the USA. Quite a journey! I will be sending these to Eric Cosh because he is doing a video for me to share with my family and some friends of my personal history and family history combined with my personal values.
2. Completing my poems for poetry book One.
3. Completing my poems for poetry book Two.
4. Completing two additional books on Creativity.
5. And painting – of course!
If I just complete numbers 1 & 2 and do a few new paintings, I will be pleased!
I am interested to hear if any of you have any personal plans with regard to best spending the time ahead.
When I am, as it were, completely myself, entirely alone…my ideas flow best and most abundantly.
Wofgang Amadeus Mozart, Austrian Composer
I am writing Haikus each day. Sometimes taking a photo of what my poem is about. This might become a book. Maybe reflecting these crises days.
Thank you for an inspiring commentary. I am glad to see that so many friends are well and finding ways to be creative and productive, even if this opportunity was not exactly welcomed. Sharing with others, as you are doing here, will certainly help us all. I am time traveling to late 19th century St. Louis, working on a new novel. I am also cooking a lot and connecting with friends and family online. Best to all.
Ellen, you are such an inspiration and your blog is so rich and full of ideas for creativity. Where to begin! And I do want to mention the sheer joy of having a pet for companionship and play during this stressful time. My little Sadie is my soul sister. There is nothing as comforting for me as looking into her big brown eyes and petting her ever so soft fur. She seems to like it too!
David, I am fascinated by what you presently are doing – Haikus that may reflect the present crisis into which we have all been plunged in varying degrees accompanied also, by visual depictions. I very much look forward to one day reading your book as I do with your late 19th century St. Louis new novel, Lisa. The fact that so many of us are sharing and connecting with each other as you say, during our long (who knows how long?!!!) period of isolation says so much about the best in the human condition – actually caring for each other – and in the canine condition also, Judy. I love the photo of you and your “soul sister” Sadie. I love the expression in her eyes and it makes me think of how I used to look into Pretzel’s and Bailey’s – my dogs – eyes, and they would look back into mine. I felt it was just pure love and connection and that is, indeed, comforting.
This is very beautiful Ellen, speaking of the creative way that so many are using their time. Thanks for your hard work in putting these blogs together, even with links! :-). Hoping that the information here will benefit many people!
Ellen, your thoughtful post is inspiring. In our rural setting the Coronavirus and death and disarray it has brought to the world can feel
very distant—until I watch the news or read the latest development. The mariposas are blooming, oak leaves turning yellow and falling, and the days are lengthening in preparation for summer, and we all know what that means in the desert. But an hour’s drive away, hundreds of people are taken ill. Doctors and nurses are tirelessly working to treat their patients. Everyone involved with producing, delivering, and providing us with food is working long and unsettling hours. Teachers are doing their best to adjust as are their students and their students’ parents. And tech experts are helping us communicate. I salute, admire, and wish all of these people the best. I am looking forward to the end of the pandemic. Knowing that it has brought change to our lives, I hope that one of these is a welling up of gratitude.
Thank you for your comments, Maryanne. Yes, it is my hope, too, that many people will benefit. As Juanita says in her comments about the tireless efforts of doctors and nurses treating patients, and of the food producers and providers, the teachers and the tech experts who are helping us in so many ways, I, too, “salute, admire, and wish all these people the best.” What a beautiful picture you evoke of the almost-summer desert, Juanita! And as you say, “an hour’s drive away, hundreds of people are taken ill.”