Yesterday, I was waiting in the back room at my eye doctor’s office, scrolling through my facebook feed before I was cut off from electronic communication for a few hours. I saw a notice that my daughter’s (and several surrounding) schools were on lockdown. I immediately jumped up, ran through the maze of waiting people and slightly shocked receptionists and asked my husband (who was sitting in the waiting area) if he knew what the heck was going on. He didn’t, but started searching. (He’s quite good at retrieving information) After a few minutes, he informed me that there had been a shooting in a residential neighborhood close to ours and the schools had locked down as a precaution.
The schools lifted the lockdown in time for pick up, and my daughter explained exactly what had happened during the lock in procedure. They have had a few drills before, and each time she tells me the details of the safety procedures, her own fears and how the teachers (masterfully) walk them through each step I tear up. I hide these from my daughter, I don’t want to frighten her. But, I (the adult) am scared.
As I sat at the computer this morning, reading updates and emails from friends, the dark pit in my stomach grew and I sat feeling helpless. Then I remembered (I often forget) that I do have an outlet that comforts and soothes. It is the art of creation. It doesn’t have to be for anyone else, it does’t have to be beautiful and anyone (regardless of talent or schooling) can do it.
It is the thing that we as writers and artists are compelled to do and for me provides glimmers of hope, of moving forward and of adding things to this sometimes scary world. I am the type or person to cry at the news. I don’t read the paper everyday because I am easily able to slide into the pit of despair and frustration that I can’t change something or save someone. But I can do my best to keep my kids safe and to comfort them and remind them of the good things in life and the possibility of magic in the world. The kindness of strangers, the joy of creation, the power of imagination.
Even if it is not creating a piece of writing or painting, it can be the act of using their imagination in a game of superheroes, or of turning a blob of playdoh into a dessert for a king. It is the joy of putting something new into the world, even if it is destroyed by a grumpy sibling or is cleaned up by a parent tired of stepping on legos.
It is putting something new and good back into the world that keeps me hopeful.