In the past, I’ve noticed a strong pattern in my creativity.
The times I’ve imposed tight restrictions, I’ve felt more creative, and been more likely to dig deeper to experiment, try new approaches, and have fun.
Examples include focusing only on writing six word stories when I was struggling for writing direction and ideas, and for a long period my entire poetry output being in the form of 5-7-5 syllable haiku.
I felt both of these phases strongly honed my writing, and ideas seem near endless.
With photography, projects like One Month One Camera, and One Room Fifty Photographs have helped me sharpen up my photography, see more, and push past what initially seemed like inhibiting limitations.
Back the present time, and it’s been an eventful few days, with increasing restrictions placed on our “normal” lives and social freedom by our government.
But what’s come to the fore to me is how individuals and communities have dug in, adapted and been highly creative in how to embrace these changes and thrive.
Some particular examples that have cheered and inspired me –
Our children’s primary school
As with all others in England, our kids’ school shut their doors to the majority of students at the end of Friday, 20 March, on Government guidance.
Since being notified of this just two days before, the teachers and support staff worked incredibly hard to provide work packs, suggested timetables, and a host of online resources, to help us parents homeschool our children for the foreseeable future.
They’ve also made it clear they will continue to provide new work weekly, and any of them are at the end of the phone or email for any specific help.
Even writing this now I feel quite emotional at the amazing support they’re offering, and how much they’re clearly committed to maintaining their usual high standard of care and education for our children in these strange and uncertain times.
Our daughter’s music teacher
Our daughter plays bass guitar and her teacher has been hugely supportive and encouraging in the time she’s been learning (perhaps nine months) – and indeed identified from her already playing piano in the school band that she might be good at bass, and clearly she is.
He has already set up a plan for online tuition using Zoom, and introduced us to an app for the iPad, Hokusai, for recording music, which on first look is very powerful, yet simple (I’m thinking of using it myself to revisit some of my old music composition interests!).
Our daughter has not recorded music before, so this is an exciting new avenue, and already something additional to the regular in person music classes she’s had.
With the online teaching via Zoom, plus recording and sending her work to her teacher for review in between, it should not only deepen her skills in music, but accelerate her learning, improve the quality of her practice (she can listen back to her recordings of course) and enable her to explore recording further if she wishes too.
Our son’s trampoline club
As you can imagine, trampolining requires major equipment, ie a big trampoline! The gym had to close last Friday too, leaving the dozens of children in the club not knowing when they might trampoline again.
The founder and teachers quickly rallied round, using their What’s App group for ideas from us parents.
From this they decided too that Zoom seems like a great platform for them to provide online teaching.
Whilst they obviously can’t provide trampolines, they are keen to continue to offer regular conditioning classes to keep the children in shape, as well as advice on nutrition, cooking, yoga and more, all of which are extra compared with the core training they usually receive in person.
One of the parents is a PET – Personal Emotional Trainer – and already works with local schools and clubs and has offered her services and experience to any kids who are particularly struggling with losing their in person trampolining sessions – and the social connections and confidence that’s come with it – for the immediate future.
The online Zoom sessions, plus practice on our own trampoline at home (our son has been flipping plenty this weekend) mean hopefully he won’t miss too much trampolining in the coming weeks.
My day job
I work for a local authority, so in times of community crisis like this, people generally look up to organisations like ours to provide leadership, stability and support.
I’ve been impressed at how quickly and pragmatically the management team have responded and communicated.
Their first phase of finding a way forward was to find out which teams and individuals could work from home, maintaining key services, whilst increasing the social distancing we’re all being asked to engage in.
Within this, each manager and team leader was asked to provide the staff who were in most vulnerable categories, either because of their age or underlying medical conditions, and home working kit is to be prioritised for these individuals first.
The next wave of restrictions from the government included closing all schools, so our management team then focused on those employees who had children, and would need to take time off to care for them if there were no other childcare options. Again, equipment for home working – where it’s possible – is to be prioritised for these individuals.
In amongst all of this, a plan is forming agreeing the teams and services that are highest priority for the local community (like housing, benefits, wellbeing, and so on) and staff from less high priority services will be retrained to temporarily help out those services with greater (and increasing) demands.
Again, all of this has impressed me in how people haven’t run around in blind panic, but simply looked at how we need to prioritise, what we can do, and got plans underway.
Photowalks with our kids
Finally, a more personal one.
I have mentioned before that both of our two older children (11 and 7) have cameras (both Canon IXUS digital compacts) and I encourage them to use them as often as I can.
This weekend we went out on a couple of photowalks – the first time I’ve been with both of them at once, and me with the little Lumix XS1.
After reminding them of the two very basic necessities for taking decent pictures that we should all know (but many don’t!), that is, half press the button to lock focus and see the AF rectangle turn green, before pushing it all the way to make the shot, then when you do, hold the camera as steady as possible, it was a joy to see them happily capturing pictures of spring flowers around the village.
To my greater delight they were spotting and photographing things I’ve seen them walk past a dozen times before without a second glance. Which for me is one of the huge benefits of photography – it enhances our ability to see the beauty already around us. Something more vital than ever in current times.
All of these examples I’ve shared from the last two or three days I think are excellent demonstrations of how in times where restrictions are placed on us (quite suddenly, heavily, and dramatically), we humans can rise to the challenge, and find new ways of adapting, creating and thriving.
How about you? What examples have you seen around your way lately of people adapting in inspiring ways?
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