In 1975, author and psychologist Rollo May wrote, “We are living at a time when one age is dying and the new age is not yet born. We cannot doubt this as we look about us to see the radical changes in sexual mores, in marriage styles, in family structures, in education, in religion technology, and almost every other aspect, of modern life. And behind it all is the threat of the atom bomb, which recedes into the distance but never disappears.”
He goes on to say that “A choice confronts us. Shall we, as we feel our foundations shaking, withdraw in anxiety and panic?”
When I came upon this passage, I couldn’t help but recognize that we are not alone in feeling that our foundations are shaking. Even though we do not feel the same prevailing threat of the atom bomb like back in 1975, we have experienced additional threats this past year that have caused radical changes in everything from education to religion technology. But mostly, we have experienced loss and heartache across many fronts. It has been enough to make us want to withdraw into anxiety and panic.
Rollo May also says, “To live with sensitivity in this age of limbo indeed requires courage”. Several other psychologists, including Nietszche, Kierkegaard, and Camus have declared that courage is not the absence of despair; courage is the capacity to move ahead in spite of despair.
We have seen several people during the year 2020, a year that seems like The Year of Despair, move forward in spite of the despair. We have seen courage, kindness, and now, hope as we move into 2021.
This is usually the time of year that we make our New Year’s Resolutions which mostly consists of losing the holiday weight, stop procrastinating, and spend more time with family. And even though 2020 is behind us, much of the world still shut down. Our resolutions will probably be different ones in the coming year than in the years preceding it.
Our resolutions may require more courage. Rollo May in his book, The Courage to Create, discusses different types of courage, including physical, moral, and social courage. He came to the conclusion that the courage to create, or creative courage, is the most important kind of courage of all. “Whereas moral courage is the righting of wrongs, creative courage, in contrast, is the discovering of new forms, new symbols, new patterns on which a new society can be built.” It is through the artists – all artists, including painters, dancers, poets, and musicians- that “the symbols only dreamt about by most human beings are expressed in graphic form by the artists”.
As you begin this new year and consider your resolutions, you may realize that you are one of those artists that have the courage to create and want to continue to create. Or you might be one of those that dream of creating. Either way, it will take some courage to do so. So have some courage and add something creative to your list of resolutions. Learn to draw, paint more freely, compose a song, write that book.
For me, my resolution, as always, is to paint more. But with this, my resolutions are to paint even larger, get back to writing and blogging, and help others to live a creative life. I will let you know how it goes a year from now.
What are your resolutions? Please consider sharing them with me and I will check on you a year from now to see how you did. We will either celebrate or have a good laugh.