by Jeffrey J. Michaels
Was 2017 a tough year? I’ve read tougher. Once upon a time I read a story about 1984. That was the future back then. After that I read a story about 2001. Then 2010, 2061, and 3001. Somewhere in there I read about 2419 A.D. which is full of that Buck Rogers stuff.
Y’know what? Humanity kept going. Despite insane computers, conquerors from outer space, and crazed government control tactics, humans stay alive and find a way to exist. The stories created are often hopeful, or at least inspiring. They are about overcoming obstacles. They are about resisting repression and seeking the stars, even though the characters have tough times.
I have also read books about 1865, 1914, and 1940, only they were not fictional stories. They were true events that actually occurred. Those were really difficult years for a lot of people. You know what? Humans are clever. Humans are resilient. Humans are creative. Out of those tough times grew some of the brightest artistic lights. Shining masterpiece paintings, novels, music, and poetry poured out into society in an attempt to dispel the darkness cast by shadowy corporate masters and power-taking, power-grabbing oligarchs.
Art Finds a Way
In general, as Ian Malcolm might say, just like life, in the midst of chaos, art finds a way. BUT. The projects won’t get done unless someone creative gets motivated. Books will not write themselves. Songs and plays won’t get known unless someone performs them. Diminished light cannot shine back in brilliant colors or mystic shadows unless first the palette is created by the painter. The Muse does not cease to exist because life gets difficult or problematic. And it is not just the Muse powering such endeavors. It is also a human effort. One who learns their craft. One who seeks to express their innermost hopes and fears artistically, creatively.
This requires discipline. Not always a pleasant word for creatives, but a necessary one. In some ways it requires sacrifice. You must be willing to leave behind the current binge-watch Netflix Amazon Prime must-see-TV. You must be more powerfully desirous of paying attention to your own projects than sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the spoon-feeding of someone else’s production into your own brain.
YOU Must Produce
It is all about producing. It is all about understanding that YOU are the one who must accept the world around you, find a place to sit and create the worlds, philosophies, lessons, and characters whose voices will express all these concepts to a waiting audience, people who need the power and strength of your stories to offer them hope, strategies for belief, and visions of the future. People want the future world to be better. Sometimes we, human society, seem to retrograde into totalitarianism or dictatorships, but historically only when we get complacent.
Dig for the Diamonds
The pressure to conform often acts the same way that pressure acts on coal to create diamonds. Remember, you must dig to produce diamonds. Creativity can inspire us to act in ways that are higher, worthier. Reaching for the stars may not be practical or even possible for most of humanity, but looking upwards, reaching for light in darkness, is absolutely what we are best at as a species. After all, as Joni Mitchell said, we earthlings are stardust, billion-year-old carbon. Life is both temporary and eternal. Bigger than just one year.
Often, we tell stories about the past so that we understand, remember, and gain from the lessons taught by our ancestors’ mistakes. Not just their mistakes, but also how they overcame great challenges, natural or self-inflicted.
Often, we tell stories about the future offering visions of warning, but also a sense of seeking, discovery, and adventure. Here too we see humanity problem solving to overcome challenges, despite what complications we throw at ourselves or at our characters.
Often, we tell stories just to get us through tough, dark years. Tales to entertain and pass the time until the world is brighter, more peaceful, less cantankerous. Maybe settling down to that new TV series is just the ticket. After all, some creatives produced it just for us.
Happy New Year everyone. Before you get too comfy, go produce. Please.
Jeffrey J. Michaels is a Gemini. As such he is deeply involved in whatever interests him at the moment. His describes his book A Day at the Beach and Other Brief Diversions as “metaphyictional,” combining fantasy and humor with metaphysical elements. He is currently polishing a sweeping fantasy series of interconnected tales collectively known as The Mystical Histories. It is varied enough that he says he may even finish most of the stories. In his real life he is a well-respected creative and spiritual consultant. He does not like to talk about his award winning horror story. www.jeffreyjmichaels.com