Finding Your Spark During Covid or Cue the Tambourine
When one door closes, another door opens. I just didn’t expect that door to be under my feet.
I fell through the trap door, sliding into a depression that was foreign. An isolation I’ve never experienced. A time when it seemed like the forces of darkness were overwhelming the light. Star Wars level stuff.
That’s how I felt when my second — and third — and fourth — and now back to first– quarter of business was wiped out by COVID-19. Event Photography doesn’t happen when there are no events.
Some mornings I’d wake up feeling good. I’d work out, pick up trash around the neighborhood, go for a walk in Patterson Park. Other mornings, my eyes would pry open to an overwhelming feeling of doom. It was all I could do to stumble downstairs and use my little rubber workout bands. The couch beckoned. Those days I’d go to bed believing the last 24 hours were pointless.
I felt like 22 in Disney’s Soul, wandering the great beyond searching for my spark. Any spark. Something to bring pointless days and pointless nights to a clarity of purpose. Meaning.
I’d call my mom, my Aunt Jean, talk to Matthew. They all said the same thing: find something creative to do. A project.
Whatever. Projects are boring.
My mom drove me crazy coming up with relentless ideas the way moms do. But they all seemed banal. Busy work. Bland.
The couch beckoned. I could watch the Avengers movies. In order. I’ll call it research.
And then one afternoon on our near daily call my mom mumbled one word: “Podcast”.
“Wait, what was that?” I asked. I’d missed what she said. I was only half listening. But now, like Scooby Do: Whatwro!
Was that a spark? More of a rock chinking against rock, quick as a blink. A sudden teeny-tiney rush. About the equivalent of winning $10 on a slot machine after putting in $5 worth of quarters. Excuse me: “credits”.
“Why don’t you start a podcast?” She had asked.
And with that, my life during the pandemic changed. The door under my feet suddenly morphed into a fire escape. Quarters started pouring from the slot machine in my head and onto the floor. “YOU WON 500 CREDITS!” A siren wailed. The casino minion came over and…
that was that. All faded. Slot machine gone.
I bounced around for a month or two. I ordered equipment (which was in as short of supply as toilet paper; apparently I’m not the only one thinking ‘Podcast’.) But the back of my mind started working like it used too. The upstairs green screen studio would be (temporarily) converted to a podcast studio. I learned all about audio mixers. I thought hard about what I wanted to talk about on the podcast. I researched how podcasts are distributed. I considered: audio or video? I ignored the digs on social media about all those podcasts no one can find.
When I was little, my mom would drag me to Catholic church. However, being the good liberal she was, we attended the “folk mass” — a contemporary service where modern songs were sung instead of a traditional choir. Think John Denver. It was the only part of church I liked. That and the candles.
One of the songs went: “it only takes a spark, to get a fire going / and soon all those around will warm up in it’s glowing. / That’s how it is with God’s love, and once you’ve experienced it / blah blah blah / pass it on.”
That’s exactly how the song went, accompanied by a tambourine. And maybe a guitar. That part’s fuzzy.
My point is this: the spark of creativity did ignite a fire. I decided to launch a hyper-local podcast, bringing Baltimore neighborhood artists together during a time when art is being murdered by the pandemic. I wanted to ask other creative people how they cope with the isolation. How was COVID affecting their business? I decided to distribute the episodes on our neighborhood Facebook pages.
I decided it was going to be a community project, and not something I wanted to monetize or leverage for anything other than giving voice to artists and neighborhood folk during a time of isolation.
When I started talking to my neighborhood artists, what I found shocked me. It changed how I think about the isolation of COVID-19. It literally shifted my perspective. While I still have depressed days, they are fewer. Even before the vaccines were announced, I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.
“This little light of mine / I’m gonna let it shine! / This little light of mine / I’m gonna let it shine! / Let it shine! Let it shine! Let it shine!” I think that’s the whole song.
In the next chapter, I’ll pass it on. (Sorry, back to the first song. In case that was confusing.)
(cue the tambourine)
…To be continued.