I recently attended RootsTech online. It was a fabulous genealogy conference and all free. At the conclusion the CEO of FamilySearch, Steve Rockwood, gave a terrific, inspiring speech. All of these kinds of events, at least all of them that I know of, had to move online last year and so far this year as well. We’ve all done a lot of reflecting about what that has meant for us. Mr. Rockwood talked about the past, present, and future as it pertains to those of us doing genealogy. When we look back at our ancestors and seek to understand them, it helps to ask two questions: Who did they love and what did they learn? Then he challenged us in the present to answer those questions. The pandemic brought into focus who we love. We had to cut so many things out, including visiting some we love. We also, most of us, had to spend more time with those we love, those living with us in our house. Relationships have become our focus, hopefully in a good way. And secondly, what have we learned? My goodness isn’t that a loaded question? I will attempt to answer that in light of what creative-type people have learned.
1. We Need People More Than We Thought We Did.
Many, although not all, writers and artists are introverts. This helps us create our medium, whether it’s a painting, poetry, or a novel, because time alone is how we roll. In light of this, a lockdown doesn’t bother us as much as it does others. We are used to being alone. However, even introverts need people, just not as much. 😉 Without a lockdown we might never have admitted to ourselves that we don’t like being TOTALLY without social interaction. Thankfully we have Zoom and live-streaming and several types of social media. Even so, the creatives of the world are looking forward to more in-person activities and a year ago we never would have said so! Turns out, being around others feeds our creative souls. How do I know that? I’ve heard from many who can’t seem to focus or create much during this time. Some have, I have, but a lot of folks have found this pandemic sucked the life out of their creative imaginations.
2. We Are More Creative Than We Knew!
I think this one applies to us all. We’ve had to come up with new ways to do things: online shopping, meeting outdoors in masks and socially distanced, using Zoom for meetings and family gatherings, setting up drive-by parties. Life must go on so we had to rethink how we do things. My writers group has been meeting online and for our annual gift exchange we offering something digitally: a meme to share, a list of inspirational quotes, a cover to print for a journal …
This pandemic challenged us all to think creatively, and we’ll probably keep some of those ideas in years to come.
3. We Learned New Things!
Several of my friends have learned new things. Some have learned how to cook for the first time. Some have taken up a new musical instrument. Some writer friends have taken up a new genre they hadn’t tried before. Boredom is the Mother of Invention, isn’t that how the phrase goes? No, well it should be.
4. We’ve Learned A lot of History and Civics.
How did people vote in the past? What is the role of the Vice President in the Senate? What did people do to survive the pandemic a hundred years ago? Honestly it might have been questions like these that stunted the creativity of some people. I have always believed, however, that we should all learn history so if this pandemic caused some people to look up the answers to these kinds of questions, that’s not a bad thing.
5. We Learned to Be Grateful
This is probably the greatest lesson. Have you seen the meme going around that says something like this: What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday? It’s a sobering thought but also a challenge that we might be doing better at now precisely because we’ve had to endure a pandemic. My parents had the Great Depression and WWII. We’ve had a devastating global pandemic and one of the most hotly contested presidential elections in history. Those kinds of challenges make us appreciate the people in our lives and the creative gifts we’ve been given with so much more intensity than before.