If you are a musician or artist, chances are, you have seen a plethora of articles circulating, focused on the “creative opportunities” that this social distancing time is presenting. Likely, someone in your life has made some suggestion for you to host a live-stream concert while self-isolating. Or, someone has made a comment like, “It must be so nice for you to have this time off to be creative!
You’re probably seeing a lot of your artist friends reaching outward to connect with their fans, via live streams, or sharing content on how they are making the most of this “time off.” There is a lot of pressure on creative folks to respond to this crisis in a positive and productive way.
I wanted to offer an alternative perspective to those who are finding that their inclination is not to reach outward with their creative energy during this time. Even though a lot of people are taking this time to constantly share their creative activity with the world, I want to give you permission to turn inward instead.
Maybe you are frozen - crippled by this vast sense of Unknown. Maybe all you can do is sit and think - or not think at all. Maybe you just need to focus on taking care of your family, your mental health, or your finances. We are facing a tragedy and a crisis right now. It is totally fine if you can’t approach this as a creative opportunity. For some, creativity is immediate expression/reaction. For others, creativity comes from deep reflection, introspection, and through the lens of separation. We can’t expect ourselves to jump immediately into action. Crisis doesn’t immediately lead to opportunity.
Sam Boer (musician, music journalist, podcast host) put it beautifully by simply saying: “Self-isolation is not an artistic retreat.” We have things to process that can’t all be processed through production.
I’m not going to offer you a list of things you can do to stay calm. I’m not going to tell you to do anything. I am just giving you permission to do whatever you need to do right now - whatever feels right and achievable and safe right now.
It is sometimes overwhelming to even reach out to your peers and friends right now because you’re just numb to the world. I personally am having trouble maintaining productive conversations with my family and partner about this - let alone my entire fanbase. If I haven’t yet processed this emotionally for myself, then how can I lead others in doing so? I can’t possibly create the type of space needed to process this in a communal setting.
This is a core principle in mental health conversations as well - you can’t expect yourself to be able to serve and care for others and help others if you can’t first take care of yourself. If that means all you do in a day is make a pot of soup, or even just make your bed - that is still a step.
It’s ok. You’re doing great.
In case you are looking for some resources to help you through these trying times, Unison Benevolent Fund has posted a list of practical resources for musicians - check it out if you need to: https://unisonfund.ca/blog/post/covid-19-resources-music-community
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