Does Creativity Matter?

This week it’s been on my mind to write about prose poetry, yet the truck attack in Nice, France and the attempted (?) millitary coup in Turkey have distracted my attention and wavered my resolve to keep writing about creativity and my perhaps banal thoughts thereof. I was struck with a moment of “what does it matter?” But creativity does matter.

I live in America which, for now at least, is still the home of the free and the brave. And our creative voices must be heard. Yes, there are the political voices heard loud and furious around the nation, but the creative writers–fiction, poetry, even creative non-fiction–must also contribute. Sometimes, often times, many of us, myself included, are put off by the strident, demogogic speeches or writing of those with biased agendas. While creative writings may be no less partisan, the delivery may be less harsh, therefore opening some to different view of the situation.

I’ll admit that sometimes I do not want to hear speeches by either candidate for President, nor read the the media’s take on them. Yes, I know I need to keep myself informed, but at the same time, the speeches are so hyperbolic and the media’s coverage so skewed (which way depends upon which station one watches) that they are often hard to stomach. I find myself riled by both sides–more so than ever before. What can we do?

For one, I find I prefer to read than to hear the news. Yes, the print media can still be biased, but it is easier, for me at least, to tone down the rhetoric and compare and contrast among different outlets. And then, I respond–not usually with this blog, but with my own journals, my poetry. I work out first what I think using my creative juices before I commit to a viewpoint fed to me by the mainstream media.

So creativity does matter. Yes, yes it does. Ask Nabokov or Voltaire or Allende or Paz or Fuentes. They risked their lives, their homelands, their way of living because they could not contain their voices. Nor should they. Nor should we. Our creativity is what makes us human. I have said as much in previous posts. Luckily America is not yet a land which imprisons the voices of its conscience or causes them to flee; therefore, we must all take on this responsibility, which is God given, to stand up for the rights of all. Create works that matter. Create works that last. Remember the only villians are the ones who wish to stifle your voices or to marginalize a group of people, and  remember even if that group is not your own, you should still care about them because we are all one, we are all human.

Keep writing, friends. Keep painting. Keep taking photos. Keep singing. Keep crocheting. Keep sculpting. Keep creating. The world needs you more now than ever.


Medicine and Music

Last month  we went to a memorial service for my father-in-law given by the medical school to which he had donated his body.  You see,  he died two years ago this past April, and per his wishes,  his body was donated to Hofstra Medical School. After two years, the school holds a service for the families and friends. There were eight families present,  and to my surprise,  many medical students as well. The room was filled to overflowing.

I didn’t know what to expect. But I certainly hadn’t thought about medical students reading poetry or playing music. This was a real memorial service complete with music and personal reflections.  Several students played musical instruments and sang. One read her reflection on her own relative’s decision to donate. Unfortunately,  the med student who had written a poem for the occasion was called away,  and we did not get to hear it, but what we did hear was lovely,  heartfelt, and a testament to the creative spirit and to those generous people who donated their bodies to the school who became these medical students’ “first patients.” My sister-in-law also read a beautiful reflection on my father-in-law and his decision to donate.

In talking with the young med student who was one of those for whom my father-in-law was “first patient,” we expressed our surprise at the creative, mostly musical, hobbies of these med students. He told us that he too plays an instrument (I forget now which one). Though he has little time to pursue music, it is a welcome diversion whenever he can find the time. Music, like most creative endeavors, requires a concentration on the moment at hand. It is a release, momentarily, from the stresses and rigors of med school. Of course that makes perfect sense. Why wouldn’t med students be like the rest of us who yearn to express ourselves in some creative fashion? Why wouldn’t med students need the creative release of playing guitar, violin, piano, or writing a poem, or drawing a picture after hours of studying organic chemistry? I had not thought of it before. Medical shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy focus on the quick moving, cut throat, and life-saving world of medicine. We become conditioned to look at med students/doctors as narrowly focused on their specialties in medicine. But real doctors, real med students are more complex than that; they are multi-faceted human beings. The beauty of creativity is how it allows all of us to experience the world from different perspectives. This is a wonderful skill for anyone, but especially for the people who help us when we are at our lowest.