The Real Hunger Games

In this article, author Avril Somerville reasserts her responsibility as a writer and steward of spiritual gifts which helps others in their quest for meaning.

I am confident that this is a most fitting way to return to this blog, Life As An Art Form, after such a lengthy hiatus. I have been quietly rebelling against the need for the constant sharing of online content¬†for¬†the sake of industry standards for an author or artist of any kind. The sum¬†of these standards¬†seems to be a consuming and unattainable moving target, that once you become too focused on, would be¬†intractable. Then I stumbled¬†on this On Being episode below: Continue reading The Real Hunger Games

How to Stay Sane Amid The Chaos

While scrolling through my Facebook news feed one day, a friend expressed feeling “some kind of way”¬†after this most recent act of terror¬†in San Bernardino. All I could do was send her wishes of love and light, pray for her, and vow to cover her with what I call a virtual woman canvas.¬†I know that there are¬†countless others who feel very much like her. Could this really be¬†the new normal¬†when tragic events unfold with such regularity, that they¬†dare¬†us to forget what we once thought was so urgent?

From domestic and international acts of violence and terrorism, to the more local yet¬†nationwide systemic injustices that send children to prisons,¬†to the inadequate systems of education that continue to fail children already within the margins, to the innumerable trending hashtags that publicly decry injustices and a Massive Cover-Up¬†at every turn, it’s a wonder folks haven’t lost their natural minds.¬†My¬†very own wellness¬†can be¬†broken by the weight of the world.

#SayHerName
#IfIDieInPoliceCustody
#BlackLivesMatter
#WhyWeCantWait
#ThoughtsAndPrayers
#WhyTheyShootMe
#PrayForParis
#BlackLivesMatter

As a woman of faith, I know that every battle isn’t mine to fight, but as a writer who has accepted her creative calling, I know that I bear a responsibility to not create for mere entertainment value; but rather, I am to probe deeper, ask the bigger questions, make the connections, and create¬†in a way that isn’t self-serving. I am convinced, however, that my usefulness as an artist will be compromised¬†without regular boundary-setting and adherence to some disciplined practices for my soul’s preservation.

How does one¬†create or serve when s/he¬†feels like they’re on¬†the brink of insanity, or get to feeling some kind of way? What does it mean to feel¬†this way? Is it¬†hopelessness or resignation? Is it fear or inadequacy? Is it bottled¬†rage?

“… he [the artist]¬†must always know that visible reality hides a deeper one,¬†and that all our action and achievement rest on things unseen …¬†a higher level¬†of consciousness among the people is the only hope we have,¬†now or in the future,¬†of minimizing human damage.”¬†(James Baldwin, The Price Of The Ticket, Collected Nonfiction, 1948 – 1985)

This¬†intense questioning and reflection uncovered¬†some plainspoken but oft-forgotten inspiration¬†that I believe can help us stay sane amid the chaos of today’s world:

  1. Surrender to Something Greater: your God, Spirit, a consistent framework of faith or belief in which you cast your cares, and steep your burdens, for you cannot possibly carry them all.
  2. Acceptance.¬†There are many causes, but¬†there is only one of you. Your small way must¬†be¬†sufficient for it is¬†part of a bigger collective of “small” ways that will undoubtedly make a¬†difference.
  3. Be Intentional:¬†Make the moments be about the moments. More than your physical presence alone, intentionality¬†requires¬†a broader¬†consciousness and awareness.¬†Put the phone down. Restrain your need to share, tweet, or snap it. Ask yourself, “what am I aiming toward?,” then direct your every thought and action¬†toward that purpose. (I am constantly working on this one.)

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  4. Play…. for Real:¬†Play¬†like Serena Williams, like the best of them. Go all in. Whether for¬†that power negotiation, an interview, or a game of Scrabble with your¬†family, go all in and keep your eyes on the prize. You didn’t just come to play; you came to¬†carry out a specific goal.
  5. Engage:¬†Make eye contact. Read body language. Touch. Hold and feel the hands that are in yours. Make a point to hear and recall¬†the names and stories of folk you meet. Show them that you’ve listened.
  6. Embrace The Rain:¬†Rain is perhaps¬†one of¬†the most physical metaphors for life; it speaks to the inconvenient times in our lives though it is purposeful and instructive. Rain¬†washes away what is no longer useful, renews and replenishes,¬†and¬†most importantly, it¬†gets us off the road and back inside.¬†Speaking of which…
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  7. Get Back Inside:¬†It’s okay to be alone. In¬†that space and time, we¬†can hear ourselves and¬†better understand our identity in, and relationship with, the world. Go within.
  8. Love:¬†Choose love. Even while sharing your rightful outrage ‚Äď sometimes through courageous truth-telling that will hardly be popular ‚Ästchoose love, because love is what has kept you this long.
  9. Be Well: Too much bad news is bad for your health, and can deal a quick death to creativity. Find a balance that keeps you whole. Get your exercise. Slow down to savor a seat along with your meal.

There is remarkable potentiality in community, but in order to¬†harness that potentiality, we must first be well and rooted in more than our privilege, opinions, legalities, or “rights” alone. Let us do a better job of being attentive to our mental health and wellbeing¬†so we can, in turn, better listen to and serve one¬†other¬†because we¬†do¬†need each other. I¬†am most certain¬†that by the time this post gets to you, there will be yet¬†another event to give¬†you pause, in which case, you should return¬†to number one¬†and begin all over again!

It is my belief that we all want to be well, so do share. How do you keep your sanity amid the chaos?

***

About More Than The “Inner City Blues”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57Ykv1D0qEE

The poem Massive Coverup (click for audio), appears in A Journey Of Life On Purpose, written by Avril Somerville and is available on Amazon (Score composed by FunkyLB Brown)

Image Credit: Johannes Plenio

References:

  1. James Baldwin on the Creative Process and the Artist’s Responsibility to Society¬†Maria Popova
  2. The Weight in Being Well: The Salt Eaters and the Genius of Toni Cade Bambara Joel Diaz, Steven G. Fullwood
  3. Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind Joceyln K. Glei, 99U
  4. Kalief Browder, 1993 – 2015 Jennifer Gonnerman