There is an ancient saying, or curse, depending on how you look at it. That saying goes, “May you live in interesting times…” And those times are certainly here now. We are seeing our businesses, schools, theatres, amusement parks behave in ways that are completely alien to our modern way of life. But for me, this has been my new normal for almost six and a half months. While I did not want the world to join me in low-level consistent anxiety, here we are.
In August of 2019, 5000 miles from home, I ended up in an ICU in Cork, Ireland. I had what’s known as a Triple A — ascending aortic aneurysm. John Ritter died of it, Alan Thicke died of one, and frankly, it’s a tiny percentage of us who survive. I should mention I was 45, outwardly healthy, and extremely active. I lived through the 12-hour surgery, received an unusual Irish souvenir (at St. Jude mechanical heart valve) and came home after an extended European holiday. And in the following four months, sit down if you are not already sitting, I had two internal infections, two strokes and I was diagnosed with breast cancer. So…. yea, I have been living in interesting times. And now… Covid-19. There has been no normal for me for a long time.
But I am okay. And frankly, most of us are okay. And going to be okay. Maybe bankrupt, maybe ill for a while, we may lose loved ones. Here is how I am dealing with my low-level anxiety and maybe, just maybe, I can help someone (or more of you than there were a few weeks ago) out. I check in with the breathing. Sounds simple but after six hospitals in seven months, just breathing is the first step. Then, I get creative. I am a theatre artist, a voice-over artist and I run sound studios. The first thing that happened months ago? With a 9-inch brand new scar down my chest, I snuck into the x-ray room in my hospital ward to record my voiceover files for my eLearning client. That kept me sane in Ireland. Then, I conned my nurses into turning off my IV drip at one hospital here in Seattle so I could record some other corporate narration files. And I moved my business, Seattle Voice Academy, completely online when I heard about Covid-19. Some of our students really balked at learning over Zoom from their homes. And yet, this week, the five students I worked with loved their experience. “It was so much better than I expected, “ was repeated each time.
All of us are going to experience major change right now. Paychecks are going to change. Needs are going to change. But this is the time to get creative. To dig deep and find something that will work. I have a solo show about my experience in Ireland. I was hoping to go into rehearsals for it this month. Now? I am recording music and the show from home, working with musicians remotely, and I plan to “stream” the workshops to get the show ready for an audience. And I am buying a 180 degree camera to start filming the show to be put in virtual reality and stream it online. I would never have considered this, and yet, here we are.
Here is what I want to know: what can arts groups do right now to change what’s been done before? What can businesses do that is helpful, creative and works? Let’s take all this anxiety and turn it into creativity. After all, we are most definitely living in interesting times. And it’s no curse. It’s a blessing.