Perhaps crusading for creativity has its rewards. I had the pleasure of talking about the topic with Lindsay Kirst during a Nourish Coffee Talk session. These weekly sessions are hosted by the Center for Health and Wellbeing. The title of the talks reminds me of a time when I was young and my Mom would have coffee some morning with neighboring friends. It felt comforting listening to their voices sort out the struggles of our street.
During our virtual coffee break Lindsey and I talked about creativity and its impact on wellness. I shared an article I read entitled Granny Does Graffiti. Budding Bankseys create graffiti art at a memory care center in Denver, Colorado. (Banksey is the infamous British graffiti street artist.) Paint cans substitute for paintbrushes, an exterior wall serving as a canvas. By introducing something new and novel a different pathway and channel can open up in the brains of the participants. Through art, the sense of loss from the erosion of their memories is eased.
We talked about the creativity and inventive thinking in evidence during the Covid-19 crisis. Businesses have developed innovative strategies for surviving the social and economic ramifications of the virus.
After all the good stuff we discussed during our coffee talk I’m a little embarrassed to admit creative endeavors have not been a top priority of mine over the past few weeks. My creative projects have been supplanted by a game called Animal Crossings. My son and husband actually bought me a Nintendo Switch game system for my birthday.
Of all the birthday gifts I’ve received over the years this was one of the most unusual. I’ve not ever been a video game player. My son and his Chicagoland family have been playing Animal Crossings since the onset of the Pandemic. For the uninitiated (and count me as one of those pre-pandemic) the purchasers of this $55 game create their own island paradise. It is unbelievably relaxing and absorbing. An hour can vanish as I plan the position of a bridge or negotiate the price of turnips (turnips for the uninitiated are comparable to stocks.) An island owner can also visit the islands of friends and family. And therein lies the real reason for my obsession with this game. My granddaughter and I probably have spent fifteen hours together over the past couple of weeks visiting each other’s islands. Maya’s island is called Pearitucci. Why you might ask? Pear because there is a pear orchard on her island; tucci because her three year old brother likes the sound of the word. I christened my island Aumaru—the first letters of each of my grandchildren’s names (Austin, Maya, and Ru.)
The last time I saw and was able to kiss the cherubic cheeks of my precious ones was January 20th, Maya’s fifth birthday. COVID-19 has curtailed traveling. Flying into Chicago means quarantining for two weeks. The Florida license plate on our Subaru could draw the ire of Illinoisans were we to drive into the state. The upshot? I and countless other grandparents are struggling mightily with the loss of physical contact with our children and grandchildren.
While I may not be painting with watercolors, I’m having a blast playing the pan flute accompanying Maya on her piano in our virtual concert. It took some creative maneuvering to navigate these long distance visits so I’m choosing to believe playing Animal Crossings counts as creative expression.