Last week, I wrote about living without assumptions here. Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about how a lack of assumptions can actually lead to creativity. There is that old saying, necessity is the mother of invention. But perhaps we can replace necessity with uncertainty. When nothing seems secure, when that next turn in the road is not only invisible but unimaginable, then creating a new path is the only way forward. I think we are already seeing it. How many new ways of making home-made facemasks have you seen on social media? How many new ways are we finding to socialize, but from a distance? To share our songs and words? To find humor in the most frightening?
Last year I was asked to contribute to a beautiful book called Diving Into the Mystery: Studies in the Creative Process. Fifty-four artists and writers explained their ideas of where creativity comes from and what is needed to allow it to grow. My own essay spoke about the necessity of saying Yes, and that to me, the word No is the death knell of creativity. In the book’s Foreword, the poet Billy Collins wrote: In creative hands, the pen, the paint brush, the camera are not recording instruments; they are instruments of discovery. I believe that, and I am realizing more and more these days that those sorts of discoveries – whether they are about yourself or the world around you – best bloom in empty fields. When there is nothing that is certain, all you can do in order to move is to be creative. If you don’t say yes to something, then there is no way to go at all.
One assumption I can make about this week, though, is that it is a very holy one for the Judeo-Christian community. Mid-week begins the holiday of Passover, a celebration of freedom and triumph over adversity. Sunday is Easter, when people can remember that miracles can and do happen. We who observe these holidays will create new ways of celebrating. My own prayer is that this present global crisis brings us even closer together, and that when the future does come, we will remember the roads we took to get there.