In 1952, unusual circumstances came together and paralyzed one of the busiest cities of Europe. Heavy foggy days were no stranger to the residents of London, but on December 4th, the metropolis found itself suffocating, literally. An anticyclone landed on the region, bringing high pressure and causing temperature aversion. Cold air found itself trapped under a thick layer of warm air. Normally the winds would have pushed the system out, but this time they were simply no were to be found – the air was as stagnant as molasses. In the weeks prior to the event, cold weather had led the Londoners to burn a lot more coal that normally, increasing the presence of sulphur dioxide in the air. Added the carbon dioxide from vehicle exhausts and the hydrochloric acid and fluorine compounds from various industries, London quickly became engulfed within a lethargic yellow-black coloured concentrated acid haze. In the weeks that followed, around 4,000 people died. It is believed that as many as 12,000 fatalities might have been attributed to the “Great Smog of 1952”.
Each of us, at one point or another, have lived our own version of the “Great Smog”. It is not a feeling of being lost. It is rather a sense of powerlessness created by circumstances that are beyond your control. The ingredients you need to power your imagination, your body, or your drive, disappear. While yesterday you might have roam the land of creativity freely, today, your mind is shackled and focused on breaking away from the burden that has taken over.
Monet stopped painting for two years after his wife passed away. Picasso was so affected by the divorce from his first wife who took custody of their son and the birth of his daughter to a mistress that he no longer spent time in his studio.
These past twelve months for me will be known as my “Creative Great Smog”. Though I married the most amazing, awesome and phenomenal woman and found myself absolutely fulfilled when it comes to love and family, my creativity and career however can be summarized in two words – inertia and sluggish. A quick look at my blog and social media feed and the obvious is plain to see. Almost a year since the last entry. A little over eleven months of sparse and random posts. 338 days of stalled artistry, looking for inspiration and not finding it.
While the reasons for my disappearance are simple, the process of rebuilding took time and energy. Just like a tornado that destroyed your house, before you can start thinking of interior design and what will go on the walls, you first need to clear the rubble. Once the terrain is cleared, then it is time to rebuild the foundations. You need to reconnect the power and repair the sewer. You put the walls up and the roof over, but still, you are nowhere near inviting people over for dinner. Step by step, little by little, your new house takes shape. The furniture comes in and finally the sense of home returns. Soon, you start making phone calls inviting friends over. One evening, you find yourself sitting at the dining table surrounded by loved ones, your life filled with laughter and happiness once again.
Standing on the porch of my new house (conceptually speaking) on a beautiful morning, I am mentally shuffling through the events that took place under my previous roof. There are thousands and thousands of memories that I know now belong to a bygone era. The year 2016 was the end of a cycle, the epilogue of a book, the conclusion of an energy that started a long time ago.
“Every end marks a new beginning”
Watching the sun rise as a new day begins, I am pondering on the journey that lies ahead. My blank canvas is ready to be painted. My creativity is back and like a snake that has shed its old skin, my mind is clear and fresh, primed for a new adventure. There is so much to be grateful for, the most important being my wife. Yes! I am truly excited for the future.
This year, I commit to more writing, more public speaking, expanding my outreach and more art. There will be new expeditions and, of course, I invite you to come along and share with me this new voyage of discovery, growth and love.
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” Joseph Campbell