Heart of Glass - How I'm Navigating Isolation with Creativity
When you turn on the news, coronavirus is the first thing you see - its bolded letters burning a hole into your screen no matter how much you try to avoid it. Those who can are isolating and practicing social distancing, and the essential workers are keeping the world afloat. It goes without saying that this is an unprecedented time in our lifetimes, and I’ll admit that isolation is getting to me. Although crucial to our health, it has been difficult to acclimate to this new routine, especially as just five weeks ago I was on my own in university in a city 500 kilometres away from home. I am now settled in my childhood room, grateful that I have a home away from one of the epicentres of Canada.
Isolation has given me a lot of time to do the things I love. I have been spending a lot of time with my family, including my bird, who is watching me write this from the top of my closet door. I have adjusted to living with my family again, grateful for things like my stepfather’s sense of humour, or my brother’s infectious laugh. I had forgotten how much I missed them. But when my family goes off and do whatever they like to do on their own, I turn to my creativity for protection from the crushing weight of reality. I have thrown myself blindly into art.
Music has offered me the same as it always has: an escape. When I feel like life is a little too much, I will turn to my Spotify and press shuffle. The familiarity of Metallica and Fleetwood Mac will pour from my headphones, and life will be a little more bearable.
When I’m feeling a little more adventurous (or I’m trying to keep myself busy, if I’m being honest) I will click through my friends’ profiles, going through their playlists for new music. I have started exploring genres that I’m not familiar with, and found that my music taste is broader than I thought. I am trying to distance myself from music elitism as much as I can, and isolation has definitely given me the time I need to listen to as much music as possible. I have also taken to listening to the music I did when I was fourteen during this quarantine, which means way too much of The Killers, My Chemical Romance, and Panic! At The Disco. There is something deeply nostalgic about the shrill voice of Gerard Way saying he’s not okay.
I have my guitar displayed in the corner of my room, where I sit and try to relearn the songs I have forgotten since my last performance. I am trying to familiarize myself with my tiny Blackstar amp, which I neglected to use in university. It is a slow process of building my skills up to where they used to be, and who knows, maybe I’ll be the next Steve Vai after this is over. Generally, I have taken a deep dive back into casual listening now that I have the time. It has been relieving to listen to music and singing or dancing instead of using it to study or write endless papers.
With all the time on my hands (and having a mum who has lots of craft supplies) I have been getting back into visual arts. Don’t get me wrong, I am not an illustrator, I cannot draw if my life depended on it. I have been getting back into collage art, pasting magazine clippings to a page to create a piece that speaks to me. I completed a whole book of collage art when I was sixteen, and I’m trying to do it again. Collage art has been freeing as I do not need concrete artistic talent to do it, I can just make art for art’s sake.
The isolation has given me time to work on another hobby of mine - jewellery making. I spend a lot of time making earrings out of items around my house, like bread clips or old beads. With all the time invested in my earrings, I even sold a few pairs on my Instagram. I am so grateful that people liked my art so much that they spent money on it, and if you’re reading this, thank you so much for that. Physically making art has been wonderful for my mental health, seeing a finished product on a page (or in my ears?) has been very rewarding.
The isolation is difficult, and it’s okay to be scared or unsure. It is hard to change routines, and it is even harder to avoid the people you love. The secret to overcoming these feelings is to filter them into something, whether that’s something creative or even just your job. Although we are all living different experiences, we are going through this together. It is important to take some time for you, to do the things you love, and to connect with your loved ones in any way you can.
I hope you are all staying healthy and happy.