This piano appeared down the street from me in the little corner of Portland, Oregon, I call home. It hasn’t been there long. I just noticed it today, and it made me think of all the creative channels we see opening up right now.
Some of these channels are mandated. Kids aren’t going back to school, requiring parents and caregivers to get creative with structure. Businesses are reopening and then closing again, requiring owners who can manage it to get creative with providing services. Gyms are shut, urging more of us outside. They’ve even started offering fitness classes in our neighborhood park.
And there’s much more being created in our park beyond the Zumba classes. People are gathering in small groups to attend an outdoor magic show, a youth martial arts training. Or a Frisbee party around a few boxes of take-out pizza. I even watched a body worker giving a massage on top of a hill yesterday evening as the setting sun set the grass aglow.
I’m sorry to keep coming back to the park, but like everyone else my life has telescoped down to new proportions lately. We are Alice crawling through tiny doors these days, it seems. But also, it’s a pretty big park and there’s lots to see. I’ve walked its paths for years and never found it half as interesting as it is today.
People are creative by default. We knew this conceptually and now I’m seeing it all around me. Our powers of creation are invaluable, and they are saving us in small and huge ways. Challenges begat workarounds begat whole new fields of possibilities as we uncover not only what we are made of, but how much we can make of seemingly nothing at all.
People also gotta play. The world as we know it can be toppling continent by continent, city by city, and still we want some fun, some time in the sun. A slice with friends under a wash of cottonwoods. Some freaking Zumba.
If you’ve been watching the news, you know that Portland has had a hard time of it over the past months. Our downtown, once an eclectic hub, is now a dystopian pantomime. There appears to be conflict everywhere. A lot of us are homeless and others unemployed, writing our futures not in pencil but in sidewalk chalk that fades fast with the rain.
Yet there are still people in the parks. Waving you on at a stop sign in that wonderfully baffling Oregonian way. A painted piano appears on a corner, and someone might sit down to play it. There are still the haves and have nots, but one thing we all have is our innate ability to create and play. Children do it with sticks on their first camping trips, making wonder out of wood and weeds. We can do it now.
May we practice both creation and play a little more amid all this disassembly. May we invite our creative selves to this time along with our compassion, our capacity to feel, heal, and grow. And may we boogie on down.