A view of the sky in the early morning and bare trees. A tiny dot in the sky is the International Space Station flying above the moon covered in clouds.
Two white dots in the sky. The tiny one is the International Space Station flying over my city. The larger one, hazy from cloud cover, is the moon. Image via my Pixel 3XL.

This morning, I waved at the International Space Station as its orbit passed over my hometown. It zoomed by, and I had a moment of realization. The three astronauts onboard are probably the only humans who won’t be directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19, the novel coronavirus attempting to sicken as many human bodies on Earth as possible.

And then I thought, “But what if the people working at NASA all get sick and have to self-isolate? What will happen to the astronauts then? Will they be stuck up there without any contact with the rest of humanity until the virus peters out?”

And THEN, I remembered I had already written this scenario in When We Were Forgotten. Well, sort of. My version involved a crew of three humans getting stuck on an orbiting space station because the rest of civilization was crumbling under the weight of massive climate change and an authoritarian government.

Um. WAIT.

Anyway, my point is: as the world slowly shuts down and plays and sports events get canceled and schools close indefinitely and people lock themselves away with weeks’ worth of toilet paper and Clorox products, I want to give a shout out to the artists and creators who continue to make our lives a little bit better, a little bit brighter, who bring us strength and healing during a difficult moment — or year — in human history.

Artists have always been important to our society, even more so right now. Here’s why:

Without artists, we wouldn’t have the variety of 20 second memes containing snippets of songs or phrases to recite as we wash our hands. And wash our hands. And wash our hands.

A hand washing instruction poster with the worlds from the "Litany Against Fear" from the novel Dune printed under each step.
Image via joeydevilla.com; the “Litany Against Fear” from Frank Herbert’s sci-fi novel, Dune
Hand-washing technique with soap and water to the lyrics from Prince's "Raspberry Beret
“Raspberry Beret” by Prince, image via washyourlyrics.com

Without artists, we wouldn’t have the almost endless number of television series and movies and books and games and videos to fill our non-working hours while we wait for the all clear to return to normal life. Or whatever life will look like after this is over. We may even learn something too, becoming better people for what we learned.

Without artists, we wouldn’t have photographs and paintings of beautiful places to dream about visiting some day.

(My family canceled a cruise through the Caribbean due to set sail this Saturday. Because we would prefer to follow the CDC and State Department’s guidelines. Also, we would rather be quarantined at home than in a tiny room on a boat for weeks on end, if it comes to that.)

Some people believe artists don’t do “real work,” that they just sit around in their pajamas making stuff up. While that may be true in some respects, artists’ creations are also fundamental to the human experience. They keep us calm and positive in times of panic. They give us hope in times of fear and doubt. They show us what life could be when we’re not really sure what life is supposed to be.

Artists are our past, our present, and our future. Their creations sustain us through times both joyful and grief-stricken. Their art is at the heart of everything we do and everything we are. They are doing real, vital work and need just as much of our support as we need theirs.

Look, I know you’re scared. I am, too.

As the days pass, full of the unknown, let’s try to remember to:

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Drink water and get plenty of sleep.

Take some time for our favorite self care routines if we can.

Wash our hands. With soap.

Try not to touch our faces.

Social distance as much as possible.

And, if we have the means, toss a coin or three to our fellow artists. Trust me. They’ll thank us for it in more ways than one.

As always, thanks for reading.

A. Cook

Amanda Cook is a stay-at-home-mom and writer living in the rolling hills of southern Indiana. When she’s not caring for her family or obsessing over punctuation, she can be found helping out at her sons' school, catching up on her Goodreads list, playing (and sometimes winning, but mostly losing) board games with her friends, crying over her favorite PBS programs, or sewing yet another costume for the local gaming/pop culture convention, where she’ll probably lose at even more board games. Her second novel, "When We Were Forgotten," is the winner of the 2018 Bronze Medal for Best Sci-fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book from the Independent Publisher Book (IPPY) Awards.

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