Why Be Creative? A Meditation on Climate Change

Photo by Nishant Jain on Unsplash

I am often asked about being an artist or a poet by people. I can see that if I said that I am a lion tamer, or a space walker for NASA, people would know that I like danger or something to that effect. So I have been wondering how I should respond to them and not just say my usual, “I am in it for the money,” with my shy smile and a wink.

The truth is that I know that creativity solves problems. Many problems. And by that I do not just mean the personal creative concerns of coming up with color combinations or concocting understandable wording combinations. Creativity in its very essence demands a certain quietness of mind and, in my case, also in my living space. Creativity expects that I am trained enough in my craft, both as a painter and a writer, to master this state of welcoming.

This waiting expectation and willingness to fail and try again comes from practice and mastery. A realization that, no matter my “talents,” I will go through the “I just don’t know” process and diligently take the next step, the next sentence, the next image, as I plod my way towards my ever-growing understanding of the truth.

What I now see in our difficulties with our environmental situation is that we are all acting as little children who close their eyes and cover them with their little fists whispering over and over, “I am not afraid, I am not afraid.” Or like teenage children, yelling at the top of our lungs, “We will all perish if no one does something.”

For me, the truth is I am afraid and I know that we need to embrace scientific knowledge with the gift to communicate in an understandable and logical manner that can only happen with creativity.

Because truth is of no use unless it is understood by other people. It cannot depend on the few knowing it all. And it must be free of political babble. Or pompous babble. Or even self-righteous babble. Truth does not require histrionics; it just needs to be stated honestly and calmly. The way one finally gets directions in a foreign city from someone who speaks our language and helps out graciously and generously, without showing contempt for our inability to find our destination, or speak their native language.

The situation here is rather troublesome and dangerous, as I see it. As the daughter of a man who loved journalism, I can tell you that what I read and see on television is bad enough for me to simply become someone like the five-year-old or the teenager I described, but I am seventy years old. Surely, I can come up with something better than that. I have lived long enough to learn from those who came before me. And so I start with me. I might as well learn to be more rational in my behavior, clearer in my desire to leave a better world, more truthful in my personal commitment to our global well-being. More “I care” than “It serves you right.”

Because we are definitely in trouble, my friends. And yet, this much I know about trouble: It needs to be addressed without blaming the past or closing our eyes to the future. Let us all look at the present and fix it. Involve our friends and loved ones. Acknowledge and support those who speak a language of intelligence and caring. Let us all lend our talents and abilities to the wellbeing of many. This is what democracy is after all.

I might as well also tell you that there will be no medals, or mentioning of our names, or even monetary rewards for our hard work. Not now at least. But, being a creative person, I would not be surprised if the generosity of our heart was spoken about by future generations. Maybe we will be admired as people who stopped, listened, paid attention, and acted in the spirit of cooperation for their benefit as well as our benefit. There is no need for pantomime and exaggerations of drama to imply commitment to the good. It is all about all of us coming together for the common good.

This is really how it all started, you know. We conversed with one another, we listened, we learned, and we acted. Unfortunately, we seem to have forgotten how to do this. Let us do it now, not because we want some reward, or fear a horrible punishment, but because we are human beings caring for human beings and all the flora and fauna that supports our world. I am not ready to give up my world as a hopeless project. I believe in us, in you and me. I believe that creativity and the love of beauty will move us to better protect our environment and each other. I know, I know… it sounds very humanistic, doesn’t it. Well there you are, I am a humanist. But I accept all and any other reasons you may bring to the table for those who want to protect this planet and its inhabitants.

Finally, it does not matter why we all sit at the table to converse and help one another. Give it any name you want. I really do not care what you call it. I am very creative, you see, and all I want is you, with your good heart, and your kind mind, and your dreams for a better way for us to continue as a species. Responsible and giving and, yes… lovingly accepting of all.