After the police arrested the Marathon Bomber in Boston, one of the students interviewed said, “Now we can go back to our life. We don’t have to be scared anymore. There is nothing to fear.” He’s so very wrong. The idea that two bombers caught make the problem go away is a false one. And every time a terrorist attack occurs, we (understandably) want it to be over so we can have our lives back. Go back to what we were doing before we had to think about dying. But that isn’t real, and our lives have changed forever already. There is no going back. There is no closure. People died. People had their legs blown off.
And still, there is a huge difference between living IN fear and living WITH fear. When we live with fear, we understand the world around us is unsteady and not in our control. We promote kindness, compassion and understanding because that is what we can do at the individual level. We understand that death is not within our control, and that someday we, our family and friends will die–maybe of old age, maybe of disease, maybe because a terrorist bomb found us.
When we live in fear, we become suspicious, angry and controlling. We trade essential freedoms for the hope of safety, and wind up with missing freedoms and no guarantee of safety. We refuse to think about death as anything except a cruel cheat, and something that happens to others. And we lose our creativity.
Fear is the big scourge of creativity. Fear robs us of flexibility, agility, choices, and the glory of uncertainty. When we live in fear, uncertainty is the enemy (along with almost everything else.) Instead of spending time in creative thinking, we spend time in isolation, developing rationalizations for “them” and “us” thinking. Anything different, unusual, or non-conforming is suspicious, maybe even dangerous.
The very root of creativity is in different, risky, and strange. There are many countries whose citizens have had to adapt to war–Somalia, the Sudan, Mali, Palestine, Israel, Pakistan, Afghanistan–all have innocent citizens whose lives are directed by war they don’t want, and don’t agree with. But yet, there they are, in the middle of a war, still trying to feed the family and provide a normal life for their children.
Creativity is both exciting and calming, involved in giving up and expanding anew. But let fear in the studio, and it vanishes. Fear makes you small. It takes courage to be creative. But it’s worth it.
—Quinn McDonald’s mother was lost to fear. She doesn’t want to follow in those footsteps.