Creativity & Social Change (III)
In an effort to find models of strength in times of crisis, I have turned to Holocaust literature. I’m now reading a memoir called And There Was Light by Jacques Lusseyran, a Frenchman who was blinded in a schoolyard accident when he was 7 years old yet went on to become a hero of the French Resistance during World War II. Along with two thousand Resistance fighters he was sent to Buchenwald, and, after a year in that camp, was one of only thirty survivors of his transport to be rescued by Allied Troops. The philosopher Jacob Needleman calls this memoir “a stunning revelation of human courage and love in the midst of implacable human evil.”
Lusseyran recounts how, after the surgery that severed both his optic nerves, he was still able to see an inner light that could be relied upon to … I would say the light within somehow suffused his being and allowed him to navigate through the exterior world in a way that was mysterious yet also reliable. Lusseyran quickly discovered that negative emotions impinged on the inner light and destroyed its reliability.
“Still, there were times when the light faded, almost to the point of disappearing. It happened every time I was afraid.
If, instead of letting myself be carried along by confidence and throwing myself into things, I hesitated, calculated, thought about the wall, the half-open door, the key in the lock; if I said to myself that all these things were hostile and about to strike or scratch, then without exception I hit or wounded myself. The only easy way to move around the house, the garden or the beach was by not thinking about it at all, or thinking as little as possible. Then I moved between obstacles the way they say bats do. What the loss of my eyes had not accomplished was brought about by fear. It made me blind.
Anger and impatience had the same effect, throwing everything into confusion. The minute before I knew just where everything in the room was, but if I got angry, things got angrier than I. They went and hid in the most unlikely corners, mixed themselves up, turned turtle, muttered like crazy men and looked wild….I could no longer afford to be jealous or unfriendly, because, as soon as I was, a bandage came down over my eyes, and I was bound hand and foot and cast aside.”
Writing is not the only form of significant action to which I am called. But it is the action through which I access my inner light, and that light within helps me navigate through the world, showing me how to respond to people and to events. The minute I allow myself to get carried away by negative emotions (especially fear and anger), my writing “turns turtle.” It dries up, I get discouraged, I stop writing and instantly I lose the light that brings clarity to all my other actions.
Energies of creativity and imagination flow through you in great abundance. If you like to write, then I urge you to get whatever help you might need to remain aligned with that inner flow, because, as Lusseyran says later in his memoir, “There is no distinction between the light within and the light without.”