The Mind Still Roams Free

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Photo by Stephan Vance on Unsplash

With more than 100 million Americans under lockdown, and the number of confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide rocketing from 4,000 to more than 40,000 in a single week, it’s beginning to be a moment-by-moment struggle not to give in to fear. We haven’t had any good news yet; the news we’ve had keeps getting worse every morning. We still don’t have enough testing capacity; we’re still more than a year away from a vaccine; our doctors and nurses are running out of masks and gloves. And our red-hot stock market, the one that had been driving a years-long hiring bonanza for American businesses, has gone back to where it started on the day Trump was elected.

The work prospects for a great many of us are far beyond bleak. A Federal Reserve official publicly predicted a 30% unemployment rate within the next three months, and a 50% drop in the gross domestic product. We can hope he’s wrong, but if this goes on beyond the summer, many of us will be back to growing our own food before the economy recovers.

Not an easy time to be alive. Nevertheless:

Somewhere in America tonight, someone is writing the song that we’ll all be dancing to this summer.

Somewhere in America tonight, someone is developing the show we’ll all be bingeing on next year.

Somewhere in America tonight, someone is writing the novel that will capture the imaginations of millions in the first stages of our return to normalcy.

Somewhere in America tonight, someone is editing the photos of the homeless that will spur us to action on one of the most urgent and avoidable social problems of our time.

Somewhere in America tonight, someone is rocking a virtual dance party for thousands on Instagram live.

Somewhere in America tonight, someone is cutting the short film that will introduce the world’s next great directing talent, whenever we’re allowed to have awards shows again.

Somewhere in America tonight, a dance legend is inspiring young students to follow in her footsteps.

Somewhere in America tonight, someone is painting a picture that will hang in New York’s Museum of Modern Art long after Manhattan’s citizens have learned to feel safe taking the E train again.

Somewhere in America tonight, someone is writing the love poem that they will read at their wedding, on the first weekend after the quarantines are lifted.

Art cannot erase all the evils in the world. Maybe no single thing could. But creativity is an unstoppable force, and though the body may be held in place, the mind still roams free. The art being born tonight behind locked doors all across the country is the art that will soon make us forget the fear and despair that feel so overwhelming at the moment. If the creative energy of a hundred million Americans is enough to help us move beyond this darkness one day, then the coronavirus has sown the seeds of its own demise, and this is a comforting thought.

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