I’ve been feeling more sensitive to what’s happening in the news. I know this is at least in part because I’m nearing the launch of one of my creative projects and my doubts have come out to play. And some of the sensitivity I’m feeling is related to the other stuff, the non-work stuff, in my life that’s demanding more attention. All that aside, however, I think that a large part of what I’m experiencing right now is a call for a kind of soft courage.
Every time I make the mistake of reading the news, I am flooded with despair. Not only are humans being horrible, they’re gaslighting each other and belligerently denying what all of us can see so clearly. There’s no remorse, no attempts to understand the other’s suffering, no desire for truth. And there is no courage. For all the power that these people have, they have reduced themselves to their fears and unexamined pain.
Years ago, I heard someone talking about how they don’t consume news media. They focus on their work and enquire about the state of the world as a talking point in social interactions. Initially, I was outraged. It felt so irresponsible to unplug from this type of information. However, now I can see that not engaging with the 24-hour news cycle isn’t the same as not caring about what’s happening. Unnecessarily provoking overwhelm can be its own kind of irresponsible.
On days when I am feeling especially sensitive, I walk the line between hope and nihilism. It is on these days that I have, “Feelings aren’t facts,” on repeat in my head. I know I am moving forward with the work that I hope will contribute to a brighter future and every step in that direction requires so much effort. Some days I just can’t push through and retreat into sleep as a way to avoid feeling what needs to be felt.
As is normal for me, the more sensitive I’m feeling, the more anger is present in my body. Or maybe it’s vice versa. Anger, which can express itself in healthy ways as a temporary and protective wall of fire. Yet, despite all the time I have spent talking to anger, this time around, I don’t care what it has to say. I am tired of living in a world that is constantly trespassing on the humanity of other people. I am tired of getting burned by the same fire that’s fueling me.
So now I’m exploring a possible new expression of anger that’s been included and transcended: soft courage. I’m getting curious about turning that fire into something that can metabolize the horrors of our world without incinerating our hearts in the process. Maybe we can make art using soft courage as a guide. As the thing that gives us hope and keeps us connected to our humanity. Our world is falling apart and maybe art can glue it back together again.
What gives you the courage you need to make your art?