“Now, all the plagues that in the pendulous air
Hang fated o’er men’s faults light on thy daughters!”
These striking words were spoken by King Lear, the star of one of William Shakespeare’s most renowned plays. Born in 1564 at the peak of a ferocious bubonic outbreak that would wipe out over a quarter of London’s population, Shakespeare was greatly affected by the plague his entire life. It is clear that plague and disease featured often in the works of the famous playwright, but they may have provided the appropriate setting for his creative release as well.
According to experts, the mass theater shut down in the 1600s in response to yet another epidemic led to an extremely potent period for Shakespeare. While London playhouses were shut for an astounding 78 months, Shakespeare found the peak of his voice, writing King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra in a single year. Granted, we may not all be as talented as the immortal playwright, but could we make the most of the pandemic and heighten our creativity?
Love in the Time of Corona
It is commonly agreed that comfort and stagnation lead to the death of creativity and inspiration. There is nothing more evocative to the human spirit than the threat of death and loss. From William Shakespeare to Gabriel García Márquez, great dramas of love and passion are always set in tempestuous times. And it is not just the humanities that benefit from strife. Sir Isaac Newton produced some of his best theories while he was quarantined at home due to the plague of the 1660s, including differential and integral calculus and the law of universal gravitation.
In the past year, we have been isolated in our homes and quarantined from the distractions of casual society. While we might not have been writing epic novels or breaking the frontiers of scientific hypotheses, we have definitely had more time to think and ponder. Weary of the constant barrage of bad news and pandemic peril on the outside, many of us have turned inwards to seek peace and quiet. In this space of silence and introspection, our minds are given the downtime needed for free thought and exploration.
This type of creative thought has been long embraced in the corporate world as blue-sky thinking, a process whereby groups of people brainstorm and discuss ideas without being hampered by practical considerations. Blue-sky thinking has generated numerous ideas and solved a variety of problems for businesses that were trapped by outdated concepts. For individuals, this method of uninhibited thought gives our imagination free rein, allowing us to be truly inspired without being put down by our own cynical realism.
Free Your Mind
As psychologists have been saying for years, we are each our own worst critic. While a healthy dose of self-doubt is essential to keep any narcissistic behavior in check, too much insecurity is a death sentence for your dreams. With the proliferation of social media, many of us are suffering stress and anxiety from comparing ourselves to the perfectly curated lives of those we see online. We subconsciously allow our inner monologue to talk us into staying in our comfortable and constricting lanes for fear of judgment or failure; even when our internal narrator sounds suspiciously like the evil Lady Macbeth.
This self-criticism runs counter to creativity as it attempts to qualify and quantify something that is inherently intangible. This typical way of playing it safe may have been sound advice many decades ago, but in our current innovative and progressive society, there is nothing more prized than ideas. You do not have to start rich or graduate from an Ivy League school to be successful anymore. What you do need, though, is to be confident of your real passion and mission in life.
Instead of berating ourselves for not fitting into the (boring) mold, we should celebrate what makes us unique. You could aspire to be an entrepreneur, an influencer, or a music artist, as long as you live your truth. Thankfully, there are professionals such as Elite Peak Performance Success Coach Geo Slam who focus on helping individuals master their inner game by liberating their minds and identifying self-imposed constraints. You could very well have an unforgettable pop anthem stored in your brain, but you would never know that until you put it out into the world.
In times of crisis, it is natural for people to feel depressed and down. Our minds are trained to appreciate security and stability and the unknown future can be unsettling. However, it is not until we are brought to the boundaries of our comfort that we can challenge ourselves—as artists and as humans. This miniature end of the world as we know it has been a valuable opportunity for us to step aside from our journeys and consciously choose our next path. Our lives are an expression of perpetual flux and motion. Perhaps the death of our conventional society will lead to the coming of new things. What will be your story of rebirth?