This week I was reading about Broadway and the possible plans to start ticket sales in January for the 2021 season. Broadway being blacked out since March is so incomprehensible. So many impacted by this reality.
Not to mention the countless musicians, singers, artists, museums, and performance venues that have been brought to a standstill due to Covid. Zoom is great but is not designed for real time transmission of music. Even dancers and other performers can no longer perform in venues as in the past. The arts have been practically shut down absent creative workarounds.
The world we have lived in since March is not one any of us have ever experienced. I confirmed this with my 93 year old uncle. As essentials became scarce, we became more appreciative of many items we had previously taken for granted. We watched different reactions when items were in short supply – some hoarded, some shared, some were more grateful, some tried creative alternatives, some were saddened, or angered. We were given opportunities to grow in Him by the choices we made.
As flour and yeast became scarce, and supply chain concerns grew, many took to baking bread and home growing vegetables and fruits. Life became simpler with less distractions, more opportunities to focus on the basics. Less money in many situations, less shopping and eating out, less travel, more opportunity for nuclear family strengthening as we sheltered in place. Even as we have grown to be allowed to have more interactions with others, we are still in a very controlled environment with many less opportunities for socialization. Ironically, we are back to drive in movies and drive in restaurants reminding us of simpler times even within some of our memories.
So we return to the missing arts in our world at the moment. And we can add in spectator sports, too. Perhaps we are being forced to live in a world not unlike that of our ancient ancestors in order to reprioritize our choices. Now as then, the basic needs for survival – food, shelter, and clothing – have taken priority and are no longer easy givens. Survival includes surviving a deadly virus, not unlike predators of old that could kill stealthily.
Recognizing we don’t call all the shots and that there are higher forces at work is a truth that has become more evident during these times, leading some closer to faith in a higher power moreso than when life is smooth sailing. The need for HaShem front and center in our lives has become more apparent, a truth known by our ancestors and even in earlier generations of recent millennia. Our founding fathers were God centered in their perspectives, children even into the 1950s started their school days in prayer. Just observing, not advocating for non separation of church and state.
We are receiving a wake up call away from self-centered, self determination to a recognition of the connectedness of all of us, not just in seeing how a virus from China can change the world, but also, in understanding how perceived entitlements are blessings. We have received so much. What have we done with such undeserved manifestations of God’s love?
Perhaps our society needed to be stripped of its many layers of false realities in order to return to a time of having to work for the basic needs of life, to, in some ways, start again, perhaps as a test to see if we are ready to receive more. Our ancestors first had to survive. Music, the arts, sports, recreation, spring from a society that has already met its basic challenges, which Covid, at the moment, has caused us to no longer be able to have with ease. We are working to survive.
A significant difference between us and our ancestors has to do with the place of HaShem in our and their lives. A Supreme Being was part of our ancestors’ reality, integrated into each person’s daily interactions and pursuits. God was front and center, as opposed to His often being on the sidelines as in today’s culture. The stripping away of the many niceties of life has put us in some ways in a comparable lifestyle as that of our ancestors. For them, as their societies and faith grew, so did the arts, and sports and recreation. So, too, are we creatively finding ways to have some element of these enjoyments back in our lives despite the many restrictions, possible with the aid of modern technology.
The arts and recreational sports, are icing on the cake, the blooms of the plants, the blossoms of the trees. What is needed before their presence is the strong foundation – the cake, the strong plants, and roots. Thanks to Zoom which makes it a bit easier for us, we have some ability for these enhancements to life, but not enough to take the place of all that we are missing. Quite the contrary, when we experience music on Zoom we are all the more reminded of what we have lost.
A dark Broadway for month after month. Empty symphony halls. Closed art museums. Lightly populated sports arenas. These serve as the reminders of what we once had, and what we can hope for again some day should we make the right choices. As we take these times to continue to simplify, focus on helping others, and make HaShem the center once again as He was during bygone days, we journey closer to the joy-filled lives intended for us – days filled with beautiful music, and art, poetry and dance, all created to glorify Him as He once again becomes inextricably part of our days.
Days filled with Him.