Despite my misgivings about social media and Facebook, every once in a while something comes around that’s really funny.
Like the one where the number 13 stands up and says, I’m a BAD and SCARY number!
Then the number 666 stands up and says, Not as SCARY as ME!
Then here comes the number 2020. Hahahahahahahaha! he says.
I think the joke may be on us, but I’m not so sure anybody thinks it’s very funny!
It kind of blindsided us, didn’t it? Out of the blue. Now here we are, six months later, still reeling from the shock, the virus, and all the unintended consequences. And it’s not over yet.
Here in the States we’re rather spoiled with our safe, comfortable life. We forget that we really don’t have it all figured out, and we’re not so self-sufficient as we’ve fooled ourselves into believing. And there’s always the chance that the bottom will fall out from under us and the reality of a hostile universe will land a fatal blow, right between our eyes. But we’re not too worried ... we’ll spend our money to hire some smart scientist or general to take care of the problem. No worries.
Granted, we’re civilized. We don’t have the worries someone might’ve had a thousand years ago. Can you imagine just having a small plot of land, trying to raise and feed a family, and one day while out working in your field, the hordes of some invading army suddenly appear over the crest of a hill? They set fire to your home and crops and wipe your entire family out. And probably it was because some distant unknown king got ticked off at the king that’s ruling over your little hovel. You and your family weren’t involved and knew nothing about the whole affair and had no voice in the matter. Still, you ended up as an unintended consequence.
But, this is the twenty-first century. And we’re all civilized, safe and secure ... things like what I just described don’t happen anymore ... not to us ... because we’re, well, you know, civilized, safe and secure. At least in our part of the world. In other parts of the world, the citizens aren’t so fortunate. Maybe because of a tyrannical dictator, or bands of terrorists warring against each other. But we don’t live like that ... we planned it better ... we’ve designed our lives better ... bad things like that don’t happen to us ... we’re prepared.
So when it hit, it really caught us off guard. ‘Cause secretly we think that because we’re “prepared” it’s not going to actually happen. But like cartoonist Walt Kelly famously said in his Pogo comic strip, We have met the enemy, and he is us! With all our technology and science it was bound to happen eventually. And happen it did ... out of a lab ... just like in a bad sci-fi movie. And here we are!
The real miracle is that it hasn’t already happened before now. Many times over.
But tragedy has a way of stripping away all the false, pretentious stuff about us and exposing the cold, hard truth about ourselves and our lives. Reality is a hard thing.
Some will crumble and fall under the exposure. Others get awakened out of their stupor and begin new journeys down better paths. But fall or rise, everyone is affected.
Everyone looks around themselves at all this and observes and ponders. And creatives even more so. Especially story writers and illustrators. Because, of course, art imitates life.
When you take a writing class and they discuss conflict and resolution, character development and character arcs ... it's all based on real life. And while we're always seeing it all play out every day, lately it's really taken a dramatic turn!
None of us will come out of this unchanged. While you are taking care of yourself and your family, and making decisions about how you'll continue forward, take note and remember all these lessons you will learn.
Because what you're going through will have a dramatic effect on how you think and what you believe.
And how you think and what you believe will have a dramatic effect on your work as a writer/illustrator.
And your work as a writer/illustrator will have a dramatic effect on your readers/viewers.
I hope this pandemic hasn't overwhelmed you and your family. I pray you still have intact family and provision. And a good support system. And a good path forward. We are Christ followers at our house, and He sustains us and allows us to reach out to others. I'd offer that to you, too.
But regardless of the path you choose, I pray you won't lose hope. You are needed in this world.
Never underestimate the influence you have as a single individual. You probably can't conceive of your influence from your vantage point, but it's no less real. Keep pressing forward.