Despite working nights, I have been hooked by the NBC show The Voice, catching up on episodes on my PC. I caught only a bit of last year’s show and am not a huge fan of the judges, but the people in this season’s show have a different quality and edge (for the most part) than any similar audition style competition I have ever seen. Most of their voices are absolutely smoking with passion, energy and creativity. This got me thinking. Do economic hard times do something to quality of creativity?
A quick web search would suggest a resounding YES, and there is an interesting survey I found from 2010 called the Artists and the Recession Survey.
Here is some historical perspective from a radio spot on Voice of America: Great Depression and Creativity
While my own blog here is not exactly a pinnacle of creativity, I am at least writing again, something I have not done regularly in years but find important to my mental health. I suspect artists of all types find their art important to their mental health, and stress is highest during economic difficulty. I likely would not be taking the time to do this if it were not for economic hardship. I am at the computer 60 hours a week because it is how I eek a living to support myself and child, so blogging is my little window into creativity within that framework. But if money were not such an energy-draining concern, I would be creating some fun memories with my kid (like a vacation) or traveling or long distance hiking. I would see a music or theater show, enjoy a fabulous restaurant more than twice a year, be a good friend to someone(s) again, develop a relationship.
There is definitely a silver lining to frugality and simpler living. For a time when I worked in downtown Seattle, I drank a latte every single day. Now when I have one once a month, it is like the sweetest nectar treat. Same with exceedingly rare restaurant food or live music. These sensual experiences are enhanced in times of restraint. I love to travel but have not been more than 75 miles from home in 5 years or out of the country in 13 years. So I keep a map of the world on my home office wall and dream. I now view travel as the incredible freedom and privilege it is, and should I in the future have any opportunity to travel, I will not take it for granted as I may have in the past.
Enhanced creativity, enhanced understanding of spirit working behind the scenes of our lives. I experienced both dramatically during trauma and crisis the year I lived at the Ronald McDonald House with a very ill child, and that experience showed me no matter how low you think your life has fallen, there are always people lower, and you are never alone even if you think you may be. Grace shows up in unexpected places, and you miss that when you are functioning in a smoothly oiled machine of day to day life flush with cash.
Times like this teach us about our own strength and how to grow within them. Either create or despair. It’s our choice.