Take a moment and imagine a world where all of your favorite authors or music talents or artists felt too overwhelmed by the world and its problems that they never created anything. Take a moment to remember what you've gained from them having shared parts of themselves.
Sometimes, despite all the love and ugly tears I've put into my writing degree, I wonder if I should have thought beyond myself when choosing a major. Should I have gone into environmental science, or marine biology, so that I could make a difference in the planet's most pressing issues? Was it selfish for me to choose myself, instead of dedicating my time and knowledge to a cause which has the potential to make a physical impact?
On August 6, I wrote something in my personal notebook that I never finished:
I was thinking about whether "art" is important or worthy of dedication in the face of . . . what's happening (mass shootings, climate change, political upheaval) and I thought this
while on my commute to class (to complete my Bachelor's of Arts, no less) while listening to the score for "Star Wars: Rogue One" - and I realized that, yes, we need people in love with music, willing to become experts so that "Star Wars" and John Williams can be a light in my day.
However simple a thought this is, it was interesting to read it weeks later, having forgotten I'd thought it at all. I had no idea then, for example, that the Amazon rainforest would be (further) decimated by a roaring fire with no hope of help from the Brazilian president, and I was also perhaps just discovering the excitement around the Euphoria eye makeup. It's been a strange year.
It feels like, for me and surely many people, that we're on the cusp of mass disaster and there doesn't seem like there's enough hands or minds or enough will to stop it from coming.
Sometimes, when the news is on or there's another 25 dead in a public place, or another community is facing the loss of their homes, livelihoods, or families - it feels like we're living on borrowed time. A confusing time, where my Google news feed lists articles about Robert Pattinson being an unchiseled Batman, roasting Timothee Chalamet and Lily-Rose Depp for their cringy make out in Venice, recipes for a vegan pumpkin spice latte, and also the disaster in the Bahamas and the threat of hurricanes and sea level rise. Sometimes it feels too jarring to be real.
When I read those things, I feel over sensitized. Too raw. How do we cope? How do we compartmentalize what we're seeing? We obsess and we create. Consuming TV shows, films, photography, exercise, cooking, reading, painting, building, writing, composing - besides the horror of the news and the financial stress and the pitfalls of mental health - we can always be obsessed with creations and creating. It allows the world to make sense.
As I struggle to comprehend what's happening in the world, and attempt to engage in dialogue about what's to be done, I can give myself permission to be dedicated to what makes me happiest. It's a position of immense privilege and I recognize that. But even if it's five minutes a day, or an hour a week - there's a joy to be felt, even within uncertainty.