Would I have wondered if the government had hatched some draconian plan to deprive us of our rights? With the present administration in the United States that might have seemed a very real possibility. Perhaps I might have meant the world had changed on a more personal level. Maybe I would have wondered if we had been invaded by aliens. Most likely I would have assumed world was at war.
And it is.
None of us will ever live our lives quite the same way we did before the virus. Even if an effective medicine is found to combat this insidious thing none of us will ever feel completely safe again. Our daily routines are being adjusted constantly and none of our solutions are 100% foolproof, only marginally satisfactory at best. Each day seems like the last but a bit scarier if we keep up with the news. And how can we avoid the news, and even should we? As Americans, we have always been proud of our heritage of freedom. Freedom of movement, freedom of our dreams and aspirations, and to a greater or lesser extent, freedom from fear. Now all those things and many more are being torn away and the big picture seems to indicate it’s unlikely our everyday lives and those freedoms will ever return to what they were before COVID-19.
For now, the issue is coping. Small and large projects in our homes that we used to conveniently ignore or put off for another day have become more compelling. But for all of us the most important part of coping is maintaining – or strengthening – relationships. Our families are our support system, our lifelines, and friends near and far help us all realize that we are not alone in this struggle even if we often feel lonely.
Those of us who are fortunate enough to have creative interests are truly the lucky ones. After the Dark Ages when plagues and wars had ravaged Europe for a thousand years the Renaissance burst upon Western civilization and the arts flourished in ways that are still celebrated and cherished today. Breathtaking music and fine art burst upon the world, proof that humankind understood the healing nature of creativity and the need to express the beauty that is in the soul. Perhaps when today’s world has evolved past the fear and devastation we are presently experiencing there will be another Renaissance. But this time it will involve not just the creative arts but the fundamental aspects of humanity, in how we treat each other and how we view and care for our planet. That is one of my deepest hopes and wishes.
Of course as I’m sure you know, the most gratifying and rewarding way I know to help cope is playing my guitar. But here’s the interesting part. Quite suddenly I find that I’m not nearly as interested in playing songs that were frustrating before in hopes of improving them. Call that lazy if you want; I’ll probably get back to the hard stuff at some point in the not too distant future. No, now I just play things that allow me to totally immerse myself in musical moment. These things might be simple chord progressions with simple finger patterns, simple and pretty melodies, anything that allows me to really listen to my guitar. Sometimes I even just slowly strum a big-sounding chord like a first position CMaj7 or an E Major and allow the guitar to ring with the sound slowly fading away. The feel of the vibrations coming through the back of the guitar against my body is one of the most soothing feelings imaginable.
A friend of mine is in the medical field and the stories she’s shared with me about what she’s dealing with on an hourly basis are chilling. I truly believe that when this crisis finally subsides all the wonderful people who put their own health on the line to help others will be viewed as the true heroes they are. My daughter is one of them.
That friend has also told me playing her guitar is one of the only things she has to help release the stress she faces and must deal with. It gives me a great joy knowing I’ve helped her find that release. I’ll always be grateful for not only her noble work but that she let me know her guitar playing is making her life more bearable.
So…..play. Play often and without any value judgements about the quality of what’s coming out of your guitar. Just rejoice in the creation of music.
Be safe, be strong, be kind and try as best you can to be positive.