As a result of this COVID-19 global pandemic, thousands of people have died, including many creative geniuses, such as the patriarch of the Marsalis family Ellis Marsalis, Jr. Our hearts are filled with compassion and concern for their families and friends as they face the challenge of honoring their loved ones and navigating the quagmire of loss.
At the same time, I continue to be inspired by how champions of the arts, culture and the humanities are rallying to share their gifts of encouragement, support and resources with the general public during the pandemic. They are the unheralded work force that also is helping to sustain us.
Based on the spirit of appreciation, and in recognition of their innovative efforts to persevere, this week’s blog is a salute to the variety and unique ways our champions of the arts are utilizing their gifts and talents to aid us during these chaotic and challenging times.
I believe it’s important to not only acknowledge these efforts, but also applaud them. Like the Italian citizens who stood in their windows or on their balconies cheering their frontline healthcare workers, I urge the readers of Arts & Culture Connections to not only recognize our courageous healthcare workers, but also acknowledge and cheer on our artists and cultural warriors; the people who frequently remind us through their creative work that arts and culture are as essential to the human spirit as food, air and water.
I was particularly moved by this article in The Atlantic, which highlights another essential cultural institution—the library. In the wake of the pandemic, libraries across the country are marshalling, coordinating and distributing resources for their respective communities. I previously have written about the innovative work of libraries as anchors of community life and repositories of history and culture. This article is yet another example of how our cultural institutions, like libraries, are often on the frontlines as “second responders,” offering transformative solutions in the face of difficulties. In times of crisis, as this article demonstrates, libraries truly serve as pioneers of a better age. And so do the arts.
I also encourage you to give yourself a gift this week: Please self-reflect, identify and make a list of the five things for which you are grateful as the result of this pandemic. That may sound strange; however, I believe human beings have limitless potential to find good and opportunity for growth, even amidst the direst of circumstances.
This is my list:
- More time to chant and study in order to deepen my faith as a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism.
- More time with my daughter and experiencing her growth and determination to complete her senior year of high school online.
- Cooking daily, which I haven’t done since High School!
- Having time to connect virtually with friends
- Allowing myself the time to read more books in my field and polish my skills.
As always, I’d love to hear what you think, and I hope you will share your list of five gifts in the comments section below.
Stay safe, healthy and sanitized!