Is It True That Art Saves Us?

In the past year, I’ve had seven diagnostic tests (three routine), three blood tests, and my first dental filling. I’ve gone from one prescription to four, and I’ve changed vitamins, diet, and supplements so many times, I’ve lost track. All of this led to my first ever bout with anxiety. I feel like I’ve made so much progress in my attempts to “stay in the now,” but these experiences have all tested my resolve. I’ve often taken imaginary trips into a future of worst-case scenarios, and traveled back longingly to a time when I looked and felt better.

Thankfully, my doctors and I think we’ve figured out what was causing my symptoms, and I learned through all those tests that, for the most part, I’m incredibly healthy. But it’s hard to sleep well when you have impossibly small veins and are facing a blood draw in the morning. Or to feel calm while waiting for days for frightening test results. Or to be productive when you’re feeling exhausted and down.

And that’s what I missed the most, the spontaneous activity of my once-active and creative mind. I had my moments this past year when I rose to the occasion and delivered a great talk, sounded wise on a podcast, got my act together enough to donate a Little Free Library to a local community. But mostly I slowed way down during my one-year sabbatical and just tried to get well, body, mind, and soul.

The one thing I did keep up on consistently was these weekly blog posts. It became my favorite part of the week, writing these posts (and hearing your responses). Even in an off year, my soul still longed to create art and connection. It yearned to remember the beauty in the world and in humanity. It desired to celebrate the things that make us feel most alive, even on the days I just wanted to take to my bed. Art, as they say, saves us. When I lacked motivation or energy to do anything else, I still read novels and watched movies, escaping into the recognizable worlds of someone else’s imagination. I still went to the theater and listened to live music, even on the nights when I wondered if I had it in me to laugh or cry. I still listened to a poetry podcast and bought new art for my home. Bringing that beauty into my personal space lifted my spirits in profound ways.

So, I want to say thank you to the musicians, writers, artists, actors, poets, comedians, and speakers who knew they weren’t just making art for themselves, they were making it for their heartsick, lonely, scared, and still-hopeful fellow humans, whether those humans felt that way for a day or a year.

Recently, a former writing client of mine received copies of her first traditionally published book. She’s been working at her writing for many years and finally got her break. I couldn’t be prouder of the way she’s hung in there all this time, never giving up on her dream, always knowing on some level that her art mattered. And it does, more than she will ever know.

By Teresa R. Funke

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