Worlds Apart and Interconnected-Creativity in the time of Crisis

God, give me patience today.

It’s a new mantra as of lately, which is unusual since I’m not particularly religious. However, it helps center me in the mornings, afternoons, and the evenings, so I don’t see red every time there is breaking news or our supposed fearless leader graces our TVs. Yet, anger and frustration do bubble beneath my skin that it becomes harder to suppress as this crisis continues forward.

I should be producing something great because there is time in isolation, right?

This constant barrage of news and updates take turns stabbing at my creative flex. Even in the safety of my own house, the pandemic’s chaos and destruction sneak its way in disrupting my routine, my structured life, creating so much noise… Creativity is supposed to be the outlet of savior during the difficult times that helps clear the mind, and I find myself too distracted by the noise.

A simple suggestion, friendly faces, and virtual hands reach through and pull me up from that slump. We air our grievances, and it brings such relief to my soul. The shades of crimson and scarlet slowly dissolve from the corners of my eyes, letting go of that fury, and allowing for clarity for renewed hope.

We are worlds apart and yet through our shared ideas, dreams, and collective minds I can still feel the interconnectivity between us all. Friends, confidantes, readers how your presence lingers, allowing that revived energy to flow through me and aspire to hold that hope in my red, beating heart.

— Loumarie I. Rodriguez —

I’ve discovered many writers aren’t writing while sheltering in. The reasons listed: distractions, other work and family needs, though I wonder how many writers are immobilized by worries in our present reality. How this touches our fictions too closely. We are a species meant to interact, tap heads together in pictures, hug, but writers also imagine death. When real life skirts this close to the imagined, coping comes through connectivity.

The last I saw my friend, Anna, we were heads together smiling for a selfie. She giggled, how I didn’t know what the Golden Hour meant. That time when the sun lowers into its orange glory, gilding our faces and hair. We stood close and stared out at the wide Pacific. Anna lingered, marveling at the sky painting its reflection in the water. I turned away, paced, and felt the coming of evil.

I’m like that.

Energy communicates with me. Foreboding I don’t express. When overtaken, I don’t know what is coming or why. I box and store it for the moment I’ll know, ah, this is what all the fuss was about.

A child’s diagnosis

Losing a house

Grave test results

A pandemic.

I drove Anna home along the coastal highway’s sharp turns, gabbing away. Distracting dread can be dangerous.

Let’s stop chatting and get ourselves home in one piece, Anna said.

In those last streaks of orange, I’d let my guard down. Relished in friendship, interaction, communal contact. It felt so good, I wasn’t minding the road. Neither of us knew this was our last sunset together before sheltering in as COVID-19 hostages.

Quarantine reminds me of blizzards back in Ohio. We’d read the frantic moves of creatures hoarding food not so unlike the grabs for toilet paper.

Hunkered down with my brood, I contact friends, visit with face apps, await the happy orange dot signaling new texts. I read Anna’s posts and tweets. I Google her stories and get lost in the journey of her words. As a stay-home mother, we had none of these technologies. Many women still don’t. I’m thinking the most of them. How if I could visit isolated women, I’d bring them fresh oranges from my tree and tell them to bask in the Golden Hour where hope lives.

— Andrea Auten —

Yellow. Yellow is light. Yellow is the tips of flames, licking at oxygen to feed itself. God is my light and my salvation; in whom shall I fear? Yellow is pollen, the hypnotic color that woos bees into a blossom, so they can spread its love to the next flower. Under a high-powered microscope, COVID-19 looks yellow. Yellow is the middle of a stoplight, which lasts 4.3 seconds, to warn us that change is coming. God is my light and my salvation, in whom shall I fear? Yellow is lightning, moving from one end of my brain to the other, the way I think during times of stress. Yellow is the 2nd movement of Beethoven’s 9th symphony. It’s the oil of a lemon peel. It. Is. Light. God is my light and my salvation, in whom shall I fear? Telegrams were once delivered in yellow envelopes. Under a high-powered microscope, COVID-19 looks like the sun, but with a pale yellow corona, the shade of butter. We’re waiting for a yellow light to change, but it’s lasting much longer than 4.3 seconds. Prolonged exposure to stress and anxiety may cause liver dysfunction, which leads to jaundice (a yellowing of the skin) which can easily be healed by exposure to light. In times of stress, some of us forget everything; I remember everything that I need to: God is my light and my salvation; in whom shall I fear? Yellow is a highlight, illuminating the page. The inside of a daisy looks like one, bright yellow piece, but it’s actually several small disk flowers colored yellow. Yellow is e pluribus unum: out of many, one. Yellow is a string of Christmas lights, blinking back tears. The center of a daisy holds the future of its species. Yellow is butter, spread over the entire world.

— Janet Rodriguez —

The shadows against my living room walls danced with the candlelight. A room that had been buzzing with electricity reduced to a candlelit backdrop. My eyes filled with darkness, as if I’d dropped in ink. It was Saturday night, the sixth day of my self-isolation, today now a lifetime ago. I lost electricity for the following hour and fifteen minutes. Left prisoner to the four walls of my living room my mind took over, and boy was it a saboteur.

An hour and fifteen minutes of time isn’t much in my world; a few chapters in a great book, the time I dive into my laptop writing and finally look up, an episode of a binge-able show. But sitting in my apartment, alone, the castle walls I’d been building around my mind was threatened. A ring the alarm, I didn’t realize how fragile my mind was, we’re surrounded on all sides type of threat. And that’s when Tom Hanks appeared.

Not him now—the blond, curly-haired, long-bearded Tom, circa 2000, shouting for Wilson into the Pacific Ocean, panicked and, eventually, heartbroken.

The time without electricity washed over me in waves. I could only see the surfaces the candles illuminated; I began to see only what I lacked—everything I didn’t have.

I dove into the ocean—after Tom, after Wilson, after everything my mind tricked me into thinking I needed; the waves washed over me, one by one, saltwater filling my lungs before I could expel enough at a time. I began to tear up. I let the bad feels in. So many feels.

Sitting here now I feel as if I’m living inside a time capsule that will eventually be opened up, gutted and examined by historians, those that lived through this virus and cities’ attempts to lock down, and those that did not live through it but want to examine what it must’ve been like.

One thing’s for sure, and I would’ve never learned it so quickly without Day 6’s power outage: I have to find harmony with whatever feelings I have in each moment, let them be felt. No matter how clever I think I am, no matter how many streaming devices I return to, games I play on my phone, endless social media outlets I scroll through, or gallons of soup I make and then devour, these feelings—boredom, anger, fear, loneliness, paranoia—will never leave my mind or body if I fight them. Instead, they travel around, taking a tour of my organs, my bloodstream, and the cells that make up my skin, and will boomerang back. The world will recover from this, healed and renewed, and grow roots, green and vibrant up toward the sky once more. So, I say, let the feels on in.

— Lisa Croce —

I’m trying to turn my anxiety into something productive, but daydreaming and sleeping are the only things I seem to be good at. And even then, I find myself awake at four in the morning, sweating blue oceans in silence, wondering if the world has ended.

Has it ended?

Is this how it’s really going to go?

This is not the perfect time for me to delve into my inner psyche but my brain says different.

You know, initially, going into this, I believed my creativity would be at an all time high. Hiding in my room, with my thoughts and a notebook. Turns out my creativity is only leaking into my nightmares because when I’m sitting at my desk all I feel is exhaustion.

My therapist warned me about this but, as a loner, I blew her off. My house is calm; we are fine being alone. We hate crowds anyway. But I’m starting to understand the freedom of being a loner and having the option taken away from you.

I’ve built walls better than dams structured by civil engineers but it seems they’re cracking under the pressures of the uncertainty of what’s to come. I’ve fully succeeded in turning my anxieties into internal screams—more panic amidst a pandemic.

Extroverts must be losing their shit right now, at least that’s what the internet says. To all my fellow introverts, we must check on our extrovert friends. They’re worse off than us. Because, if I know I’m not the most comfortable to be alone in my thoughts during this time of crisis, they must be terrified.

I’m trying to turn my anxiety into something productive. But all I’ve thought about is the world hurting and the color blue.

— Sen Sherman —

We are in deep shit. Almost as deep as the blue and violet of indigo, a color that singles itself out through combination. Like us, now, in this time of isolation—together in the space we must make and take for ourselves and for the greater good.

How do we fill the space? Every day is another headline, the endless breaking news of a pandemic. Do we turn on or tune out? Is there an option to drop acid instead?

These questions are why interconnectivity and art are important. They give us strength—as individuals and as a whole. They are what propel us forward, giving us a reason for each new stay-at-home day. Without each other, without creativity, we are bound to become human hallucinogens placed on a wet muscle of boredom. We’d simply dissolve.

So, my answer? Turn off the news for a while and tune in to those Zoom chats and FaceTimes with your friends and loved ones instead. Laugh like you just dropped acid and nothing makes sense, because, well, it kind of doesn’t.

But one thing is for sure, the deep shit that we are in is not as deep as our indigo bonds—the blue and violet of our friendships growing more and more united even as we must remain apart.

— Alisha Escobedo —

For me, creativity is the body of my spirituality. It’s how I connect to myself and to the world. Writing keeps me connected. Writing makes love, when hate rises up. Writing makes hope, when doubt looms overhead. Writing makes light, when the world dims. And right now, love makes bridges, when the distance draws on between us.

Before the coronavirus struck, I was already in a season of my life punctuated by the need to refill a near-empty cup. My ability to give out, emotionally and mentally, has been hindered in recent months, and creativity is what brings me back to myself. I hope creativity will bring all of us back to each other in these strange and uncertain times. I hope that creative solutions will lead to gatherings of friends and family. I hope creativity will inspire artists to generate art that uplifts people. I hope creativity will guide agents, editors, and publishers into a work rhythm driven by the need for community and shared rejuvenation. I hope that creativity will embalm us in these days of isolation, preserving the kindness, compassion, and connections we each hold.

— Regan Humphrey —