There Is No Way Back

You hear about reconnecting with the world. You try to find your way back. But there is no way back to what was because it no longer exists. Let your grief be your advisor and teach you about the inevitability of loss. Refuse to inhabit sadness and begin move toward what cannot yet be seen. Find a way to face the turbulence and trauma of the world. The events that surround you are beyond your control; your agency lies solely within. Choose what to think, feel, and believe carefully. But do not avoid or deny what is happening in the world. Stop looking behind you with the desire to return. You must find a way to connect, participate, and engage with the circumstances of your life. That is why you are here.

Over these past 18 months, you have become a stranger to yourself. Your sense of identity eroded by the instinct to survive. You move through a liminal surround that is gradually transforming the feeling of being alive. The old creativity that was abundant has vanished into ambiguity. The world feels less welcoming now. More threatening. Divisive. Hostile. Intolerant. You are a creative. An empath. You feel an unfamiliar and foreboding energy churning within. It hijacked your mind for a time. Take responsibility. You made those choices. You travelled down those dark paths. You knew the consequences would be severe, but you discounted them in time. Now they are here, and you must turn the other way. You must, once again, begin to create from all the brokenness within.

You have tried to numb your fear with all sorts of physical and material distraction. You have attempted to deny your existential angst and proceed as if it doesn’t exist. Now your spirit is exhausted, and your soul agitated. You have let yourself down by not braving the unexpected fierceness of the wilderness now moving within you, and through you, and all around you. Rather than attending to it and humbling yourself to its terrifying wisdom, you turned fashioned an illusion from reality. But your soul will no longer tolerate your distraction. You are wounded in ways you do not fully understand. Your wounds are what you must create with. Embrace them.

Even the words of consolation you continue to write seem foreign. Has the pandemic changed the meaning of the words that used to sustain you? And all the time you had to spend producing creative work still, after all this time, remains hidden in your journals and notebooks. No one can see your words, as if you no longer want to risk your creativity in the world. But your words carry more mystery now. Less certainty. Even you don’t always recognize yourself in them. You have lost pieces of yourself to pandemic. Pieces of what once sustained you have broken off. You now live in a world that doesn’t offer comfort, consolation, or solace.  The act of writing does not feel the same. It is permeated by a haunting liminality. And the emptiness, uncertainty, and ambiguity that you must learn to inhabit calls you. In your fear is where you will find yourself again.

Trauma is a agile shape-shifter. It moves fluidly throughout the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual domains. You feel its pain everywhere all at once. Trauma is a mercurial environment, not a location. Remember that your pain is not unique or special. Others have far more hardship to navigate than you. Be determined to make your struggle about the cultivation of empathy, compassion, and kindness. Do not attempt to cancel culture or butcher contrary opinion. The essence of belonging to recognize some aspect of your own vulnerabilities in others. Even with a stranger. Especially with adversarial vectors of influence. You have not yet developed this degree of fortitude. Start now.

In the face of global divisiveness, what do you do now? What can you possibly say within an overwhelming deluge of digital words that matters? What words serve you now as witness humanity devolving into factions, opposing views, self-serving feedback, narcissistic tyrants, and pathological cults? Do you choose this side or that one? Or find disinformation to bolster your own atrophied beliefs? Or submit to fear and lose yourself inside a cult of intolerance?  Culture is under siege. The climate catastrophe is now. Your task is clear! You must return to those empty spaces within you, as bleak as they may be, and begin creating something new. This is the only thing you can give. That is where you will reclaim your art and, eventually, the courage to risk it in a fierce world.

Find a new way. Abandon the old ways. Release that which once inspired you for it no longer serves. You are not the same human being anymore.  You are not in the same world anymore. Life will never feel the way it used to. It doesn’t need to. Why would you expect it to? Thrive within the ambiguity of being instead of groping for the illusion of certainty. This is how an artist confronts the wilderness. Create wellbeing, gratitude, and consilience. Invent a new creative practice. And now that you are trembling and properly frightened at the thought of moving forward…

Be thankful there is no way back.