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by Michael Shirtz

I don’t know about you, but if you’re like me, I think we are living in this kind of unreal world…as if we haven’t woken up from a bizarre dream. Each day we face a more realistic and grim saga unfolding. As this pandemic floods our country and washes over the world, it is easy for us to hunker down in silence, fear, and do what we can to hide from the uncertainties of what is occurring. Yet, at the same time, there is also something else happening. There is an emergence happening to explore humanity again. We are beginning to slow down and take time to reflect on our lives. And with that, comes this profound opportunity of people turning towards the arts, cultural offerings, and creativity.

Today, what are we turning to more than ever to aid us in these troubled times? We’re either finding our self-creative sides or searching for creative experiences. We are logging into streamed performances, taking virtual museum tours, watching art and music videos, and of course viewing movies. Actors and artists alike are sharing their talents to inspire others through every media platform available. When we walk through our neighborhood, we are seeing a development of chalk art on drive ways and sidewalks. People are moving their doodling habits into explorations of what their real potential might be with the pencil or the brush. Old traditions are returning such as journaling or letter writing. Cooking has moved from the quick fix to get a meal, to discovering the culinary art of good food prep…often times making it a family routine. Kids are engaging in the art of “pretending” again – where a big box from Amazon is now an airplane, boat, or part of a living room fort. Children “of all ages” are playing outside again with great excitement making the backyard a whole new world of intrigue, games, and excitement…enriching those important skills of imagination and creativity.

So many of these things we’ve lost due to our need for instant gratification and our over dependency on technology. But right now, life has slowed down and we are all learning those basic human functions and capabilities again. Letting our minds ponder, reflect, imagine, and create. Whatever happens on the other side of this horrifying time, I hope that we have learned a valuable lesson and that the need for arts and cultural, and simply slowing down, be more present in our lives.

I remember reading a story of someone asking Winston Churchill if he was planning to cut the funding for the arts for the war efforts during World War II. His response, “If we do that, then what are we fighting for?” How true. While we battle this virus, let us not forget the things that inspire us most…they come from our ability to imagine and create.

So, with the help of some very good friends in this business, we will begin releasing a series of thoughts and reflections by artists, actors, directors, musicians, and authors. We hope that these simple devotionals will help motivate your creativity during these times of uncertainty, and provide you some insight, joy, and inspiration.

I know many of us have anxieties about the world right now. We have fears about our jobs and where that next paycheck will come from. We are concerned about our families and friends. We are dealing with our own mental and physical health. We are balancing kids, work, and home in ways we never imagined. Some are taking care of parents, neighbors, and friends who can’t get out to take care of themselves. Others are doing what they can in making masks, shopping for others, and so much more. And, while we remember all of these frustrations we are all living with, let us also remember to take a few moments, and celebrate the blessings we do have - perhaps more grateful for them now than ever before. No matter how dark the days may be or sleepless our nights have become, let us remember to celebrate the blessings we have and share as one people.

Pamela and I wish you all good health and safety during this time. Our hearts go out to those dealing with COVID-19 and we keep you in our prayers daily. Thank you to our health officials, medical teams, and first responders for all they are doing to fight this pandemic. Together, we will pull through this and ‘create’ a new world.

Please check out the "Creative Reflections" on FaceBook and Shirtz website.

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