The Arts and Respite, Resilience

I am working in my Minnesota home, looking at snow sparkling in the sunshine, waiting for the temperature to rise above 0°. It will, after a cold snap that kept me indoors for days. COVID out there has played its part, too, but there is a feeling that it is easing, and this spring and summer may show something of a return to normal living. In this peaceful isolation I continue to dream, consider, imagine, remember, write and plan. There is loveliness in this quiet time.

Listening to music and considering attending a conference on Poetry Therapy, I am reminded of the power of art to soothe, inspire, and uplift. It reminds us of life’s gifts to us. Art offers us respite—a pause from the grind of daily life or challenges, allowing us to go elsewhere in our hearts and minds and connect to higher things.

Vivid beauty, creativity, expression, risk; they all evoke feelings, provide opportunity for resonance and identification. I read a moving, aching poem and it touches my own loneliness, melancholy, and wonder. Joy sparks when identifying with the perfection of words, images or sounds, shared by a generous heart willing to be vulnerable and exposed. Laughter bubbles up to read irony and see life’s absurdity through another’s eyes. A friend of mine said she misses the physical exhilaration and energy of being with others at a live concert. I think we are all yearning for that experience again.

Humans invent, build, process, develop, and change the world to suit ourselves. We also describe, reveal and demonstrate our beliefs, feelings and understanding through the arts. When an artist shares her gifts with us, it is intimate, enlightening, and moving. There is nothing quite like it. The arts—visual arts, performing arts, crafts, writing–offer an experiential connection to another perspective, as we experience it in our bodies—our pulse quickens, our toes tap, tears well up, our heart aches, we feel a flush or a chill, evoked by another person’s expression of their truth. It connects us. It informs us. It touches our souls.

Arts/culture is another casualty of COVID. Last spring, with the world in lockdown, UNESCO created a “ResiliArt” movement, with the intention to raise awareness about the far-reaching impact of COVID-19 across the cultural sector, and to support artists and cultural professionals. They said, “Culture makes us resilient and gives us hope. It reminds us that we are not alone.” Yes—it enhances our resiliency. Let’s do all we can—purchase music, see movies, watch virtual art, anything to support the providers of culture that see us through these difficult times, so they can survive and thrive, too. It is good for us, what they provide.

Doing our own art is important, too. Seeing a creation come to life in our hands creates a satisfaction that is comforting and fulfilling. I put this idea into action with my weekend project—photo collages to add to my “travel wall.” I pulled 34 photos out of 4,000+ from my two months in Europe in 2019 and now I can walk by and be reminded of the beauty and meaning I experienced on that trip, mostly in the homelands of my ancestors and beloved cousins (Scandinavia). Take some time out to create something this week. It will provide respite for you and add to your resilience. Express yourself, it is good self-care.

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