Resilient As a Tree: An Update During These Troubling Times

I’ve been thinking about resilience quite a bit over the last few days.

There’s a meditation on the Sanvello app about imagining yourself as a tree. As being as resilient as a tree. Because trees still grow, regardless of how nurturing or toxic the soil is from year to year. They keep growing no matter how windy it gets (and I’ve seen a lot of winds coming through and knocking over branches here. But never a whole tree). Trees stand tall no matter how cold, or hot, it gets. And people are like trees that way: no matter how hot or cold, or windy or stagnant, toxic or nurturing our environment is…we stand tall. Like the trees.

When I was on the Navajo reservation, the other students and I were guided through a sweat-lodge ceremony. Before it started, the woman who led us said, “Look at these trees around us. We people are like the trees, diverse and yet still beautiful. That tree there is short and skinny, but still beautiful. That tree there is tall and knotted and has twists in its trunk, but is still beautiful. And we are the same way. Remember that.” And I have. It’s always stuck with me.

I think, ultimately, people are resilient. Humans are resilient. We are adaptable. It’s one of our strengths as a species. We can live pretty much anywhere, from Iceland to the Sahara desert.

I think we as a species will survive what’s going on right now. Even though there are memes about “the earth is healing now that humans don’t poop out carbon emissions!” or “humans are the real virus!!!11!!” or “guess we’ll just die now.”

I’ve never been a defeatist. Or a cynic. (Or an eco-fascist, but that’s a different blog post).

I’ve been on a rather emotional healing journey for the last month, coming to grips with the fact that I have lived through rough shit. And I’ve seen rough shit. And I’ve seen other people who have been through the same crap as I have, or worse, come out as cynics.

But it’s just not in my programming. I can’t be a cynic.

I have too much empathy.

More importantly, I have too much hope.

Or maybe right now, it’s enough hope.

All of which is to say – all things considered…

I’m ok.

And that’s a weird thing to say. Because here’s the truth: a LOT of artists are getting hit REAL hard right now. With events getting cancelled left and right, or postponed until fall or winter… a lot of artists, writers, musicians, and other creatives are losing their livelihoods.

And it’s not just them: the venues they would have performed or exhibited at are closing. That means the jobs associated with those venues, from food service workers to event organizers to ticket sellers to security – they’re all getting laid off.

And what I see a LOT of on social media feeds are people ranting about folks who are hoarding. (Insert toilet paper joke here).

Honestly, the best thing you can do right now is reach out to the creative people in your life and check in on them. Ask them if they’re ok – because they probably aren’t.

There are creatives trying desperately to figure out how they’ll pay their bills and keep themselves fed with no events to sell at. There are staffers panicking over the same things.

So I encourage you to reach out to creatives. Don’t just ask if they’re ok.

Ask what you can do to help.

It can be anything, from donating money to donating food. Literally anything will help.

Because the other truth is: artists are often the first to run livestreams or other virtual events to help raise money for charities. As Amanda Palmer puts it, creatives are the first to do charity events…

But they are THE LAST to get assistance. More often, they’re the first on the chopping block to be denied assistance.

It should not be this way.

And in my opinion, I think this crisis we are all going through as a collective is making us realize that the old way of doing things is no longer working.

Now is the time to reach out and help however you can. Even if you can only just call or text to talk to someone.

As for me…

Like I said, I’m surprisingly ok. I have a lot of food (in fact, I’m organizing a little no-contact pantry swap with a friend of mine after I post this). I have a LOT saved back as a cushion, and most of it is liquid, meaning I’m not pulling from retirement savings in the event that I need the funds.

Also, to my surprise, I still have freelance clients who haven’t bailed on me during this crisis. I’ve also started working with a new startup, NeverEnding, Inc, which is exciting. And I still have KickStarter rewards to fulfill. I’m incredibly privileged to have this, and I’ve been sharing my resources however I can to help other artists.

A lot of people have been complaining about the social distancing required to contain the calamity, but I’m already a social recluse outside of convention season. At the moment I don’t have roommates except for my cats. But I have friends and family I can text and call. My D&D group is figuring out virtual playing spaces. I’ve been listening to new music and enjoying my down time. All in all, I’m ok.

I will say, because convention season has been effectively cancelled for the next few months, I will be doing a livestream every Saturday on YouTube until further notice. These livestreams will run from 1 pm to 3 pm EST. Each livestream I’ll be doing different things.

This Saturday, from 1 pm to 3 pm EST, I’ll be drawing commissions from my latest KickStarter campaign. Who knows what I’ll do the week after that?

Thanks for reading, and for reaching out.

Keep being awesome.

2 thoughts on “Resilient As a Tree: An Update During These Troubling Times”

  1. You seem to have things together than many other creatives. Hope you can weather the storm and when it’s over, get a good start out the gate.

    1. Funny thing is, I get the comment a lot IRL that “wow, you have your shit together!” Really I’m doing my best. Having that part-time job at the gas station last year DID help in getting that savings cushion, though, not gonna lie. (Also support from my family, which I know a lot of people don’t have.)

      Here’s hoping that we all get a good start when this is all over.

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