Consciously Creating Culture
The Great Reshuffling
The cosmic casino of life dealt us all a sour hand, albeit with silver linings, when our unforgivingly fast-paced American world came to a screeching, grinding halt during the Ides of March, 2020. It was an unprecedented event that left many scrambling to figure out a whole new way of life, and adapt to a now more obviously impermanent present and a incalculable future. With the gradual and firm taking over of our lives by social networking, I had already been wary of our society’s increasing physical distance — and suddenly we were all forced apart even further.
Upon making the necessary announcement that my Los Angeles boutique would close due to the existential threat of COVID-19, I watched the explanatory video I posted with tears streaming down my face. It still didn’t feel real, but it was then that I realized, after all the struggles of a five-and-a-half year hustle, that I truly loved my shop. It had always been a lot of hard work and I hated having to shut the doors and let down customers. But upon later introspection, I’ve realized that those tears might also have been of relief.
I spent the first two weeks of quarantine in a daze, gripped with uncertainty and concern for the future of my life’s work. Toward the end of that fortnight, I finally came out of the mental fog to appreciate the various opportunities that the widespread calm afforded. Without the chaos and distraction of work, I was able to hone in on all those little tasks and self-nurturing activities that typically got away. I fixed my bicycle brakes, organized my books and records, and practiced on musical instruments.
Just when I’d begun to let my financial worries fall away, I started sewing fabric masks. That shifted everything back to frantic and once again, I was at work, now for 8–10 hours every single day with hundreds of orders to stitch and ship. I hadn’t wanted to jump on the mask-making bandwagon, since garments are my trade and while everyone had panic-bought food and toilet paper, I’d stocked up on materials for designs I’d planned to make in the upcoming months. I had wanted to make sure I wouldn’t be bored or unable to create, in case the fabric shops were forced to close. But while sewing masks gave me a deep purpose to help others, and a structure to my otherwise freeform days, I wondered if I’d be better off floating wherever the wind might take me.
A few days into frantic mask production, my parked car was hit by an erratic driver, but I barely had time to concern myself with the vehicle I was now rarely using. The pandemic had reshuffled my priorities, and I was determined to carry on helping people stay safe with the masks I made. Any downtime was spent getting to know the neighbors in my building, and cuddling with my cat — who was my greatest pillar of strength in this time. I knew I’d be okay because I had him (although five months into isolation, I had to say goodbye to my feline soulmate).
As mask orders gradually subsided, I focused my efforts on expanding my shop’s website to offer every single item we carried, and gave a storewide discount along with free shipping. Like the masks, I knew that pivoting was essential to my business’s survival, and customers whose paychecks had stopped flowing needed a break as well. At some point I noticed half of my social feeds were awash with desperate individuals having trouble navigating, and the other half seemed to manage to keep their spirits afloat. An optimist with occasional bouts of despair, I have aspired to remain in the latter group, and I did so by adapting, both my activities and my attitude. I could choose not to accept the still-surreal situation, or I could embrace it for all it could be worth. And we were all in the same boat anyway — every human on Earth could relate to one another through this shared experience.
I’ve always had this thought that the world would finally come together one day, when the threat of a common enemy — like a malevolent alien invasion–could unite us for our common survival. But this particular global pandemic, shaped by surrounding circumstances, has shown both sides of a very tricky coin. While most people are more friendly, caring, and patient, this historic time has also given us anti-maskers, uncooperative Karens, and extensive online infighting. Before this year kicked off, I knew that 2020, with its common association with perfect vision, would finally remove much of the veil in which we’ve been shrouded for many decades, or in truth, all of America’s history. I just didn’t foresee all the ways in which way our eyes would open.
The wholly upsetting and egregiously gruesome murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement in late May was the catalyst for massive worldwide protests against long-standing police brutality. Yet in a way it was a blessing that many more of us than would be otherwise, were home from work and school, able to participate in marches demanding justice and a massive overhaul of our correctional systems. Similarly, the pandemic has further exposed inequality among healthcare as we’ve seen its disproportionately detrimental effects on our poorest communities and people of color. As a result, we are talking about universal healthcare and basic income more insistently than ever — and with more time on our hands to join movements working toward change.
While social media can be blamed for a lot of societal ills, it’s obvious that information has never spread faster, and at this writing many are now being made aware via shared links, that ICE detention centers have been performing unwanted hysterectomies on immigrant detainees. Concentration camp survivors and their descendants are warning the masses that incidents like blatant brutality without accountability, forced sterilization, abduction of dissenters in unmarked vehicles — the list goes on — are flagrant indications of a fascist uprising. The seeds have been sown for generations, but we are now more aware than ever. The odds are in the house’s favor, but we are privy to the dealer’s hand.
As a nation, we have long been indoctrinated to identify with our jobs as careers and to neglect family values in favor of the American dream. While costs of living across the country have soared and wages remained stagnant, we’ve been forced to abandon our humanity. We’ve been too busy hustling just to stay alive to pay attention and activate while billionaires filled their pockets, while politicians squandered our tax dollars, while city streets buckle under the weight of the homeless by the tens of thousands. The system’s minor cracks have coalesced into a shattered melting pot of hope and faith while we idly consume entertainment to numb our pain. But now we have the time, the eyes, and the minds to overcome our oppressors.
So what do we do?
Stay present and grounded. Know that you’re in control of only your own self from moment to moment. Be cautious, but don’t let fear rule.
See if you can use this time to realign with your creative passions and innate purpose. Re-identify with your genuine self. During this time with 10–15% of the US population currently out of work, the cards are all on the table. Reconnect with your child self, the version of you who knew exactly how you liked to spend your days without the pressures of money or career. In what worlds could you disappear blissfully for hours at a time? What creative activities and dreams kept you up at night, the things you fought sleep to continue doing? Considering the world of today, how can you parlay these innate ambitions into a new life’s purpose?
Reinvigorate your humanity by evaluating ways to help the community. Revitalize nurture, both inwardly and outwardly, by practicing motherism — what I call the new feminism. Whether it’s offering a friend or neighbor an ear to their woes, or volunteering with a national charity, we can all find purpose in uplifting and enriching others.
Together, from our deepest sense of self, we can reset and renew, and move forward courageously & confidently into a conscious future. We are magicians, finding only the cards we want to hold.