Saturday, October 22, 2016

Creative Spark

I've been wanting to write this one for awhile, but couldn't really find a good way to begin.  So I'm just going to write, let the words flow, and hope for the best.  Here's hoping it helps others who might be having some of the same issues I have.

This election year has been bad.  It's been the worst election stress wise for the United States as long as I've been an adult who could vote.  Many of the comments by Donald Trump about 'those he doesn't feel he represents' which is basically anyone who isn't rich and white have triggered me.  A friend and I were talking about incidents that happened while we were driving, and the drivers behind us were so obviously stressed and driving erratically that both my friend and I felt we needed to be extra cautionary.  People all over the United States are feeling the stress from the polarization of this election.  I'm in no position to move outside of the United States, but the sheer nastiness that has surfaced during this election has cemented my decision to pursue a doctoral degree at some point for the simple reason that with a PhD I'll be able to get employment outside of the U.S.  2016 has been filled with a gaping void of suck, and like many others I've struggled to deal with it.

Like many times in my life when terrible things happened I turned to the arts to help deal.  Particularly, Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton the Musical and Lindsey Stirling's album Brave Enough.  I doubt very seriously when either of these creative geniuses began writing their music they thought it might help someone through stress and trauma.  But I'm still very grateful to both of them for persevering their vision and releasing it for public consumption.  Both of these works are available for streaming on Amazon Prime if you haven't heard them.  Here are the pieces which have helped me the most, although I really can't say enough for the entirety of both.

Miranda's song Wait For It is written from Aaron Burr's point of view, which is ironic since eventually Burr shot Hamilton in a duel.  But the specific part of the song which speaks to me really speaks to anyone who's survived trauma.  Part of the healing process with trauma is patience with yourself.  The knowledge that you're going to have setbacks and that setbacks are okay because you're still alive, breathing, and better than you were when the trauma was happening helps those of us who are survivors to just keep going.  Sometimes the lyrics of a song jump out of the headphones you're listening to and scream this is you.  That's what wait for it did for me.  Here's the bit that really stands out for me, as sung by the character of Aaron Burr:

Wait for it

I am the one thing in life I can control

I am inimitable
I am an original

I’m not falling behind or running late

I’m not standing still
I am lying in wait

For me specifically, I'm lying in wait to allow myself to heal.  There are so many things in our lives that we can't control, but believing that we can heal, and become whole again is something we can do.  I listen to this song a lot, and thank Lin-Manuel Miranda every time I hear it.

Lindsey Stirling's new album is highly influenced by the death of her friend and band-mate, Gavi.  It is beautiful and bittersweet and is recommended for anyone who loves music.  The three main songs that have been speaking to me on her album are:  The Arena, Where Do We Go, and Don't Let this Feeling Fade.  The Arena is an instrumental track, while the other two are vocal pieces.  I'm not sure what it is about The Arena, but it helps me fight off the feelings of emptiness that my trauma brings.  Where Do We Go quite eloquently speaks of what you do when you've done all you can, and it just didn't work.  Don't Let This Feeling Fade reminds me that good things happen, you just have to remember to look for them.

Sometimes when you're highly stressed out and have been through a traumatic event creativity can help you to process and deal with those weird, convoluted feelings.  Sometimes they can give you a reason to keep waking up and face the world.  So thanks so much to all the artists out there that keep creating.  I promise you someone is looking at what you made and thanking you.