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Something Out of Nothing

from 2020101 (2021) by Shannon Curtis

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Our story collection revealed that 2020 was a time — with its amplified stresses, its necessitated isolation, and its peculiar rendering of time — in which a lot of people had to figure out how to be proactive in finding peace and presence for themselves. How to make sense of a time that felt so unsettling. How to find an anchor in the chaos.

Many people told us that rather than hoping and waiting to discover serenity in something outside of themselves, they saw and seized an opportunity to create it for themselves — often through the act of creation itself.

Making art to make sense of the time.
Drawing, writing, making music, painting … as an avenue to personal peace amidst the swirling storm.

Several people recorded and released albums of new original music.
Someone published their first book.
Many took up paint brushes and manifested beautiful scenes on canvas,
or applied them to rocks, which they then left around their neighborhood as smile-inducing treasures to be discovered by passers-by.
Some wrote poetry.
Others used their hands to weave together simple threads that, once woven, became something meaningful … a cozy hat, a pretty wall hanging, a blanket to keep someone warm through the winter.

Something out of nothing.

The nothing …
… an era of limbo with a perpetually uncertain ending point.
… a time of isolation and eerie quiet.
… a void, where the potential for something new existed only as a microcosmic speck of inspiration in the minds and hearts of the soon-to-be creators.

The something …
… a poem, a painting, a song.
… a discovery or re-discovery of an inner artist, of the child that used to unflinchingly create without fear or hesitation.
… an offering of beauty for others.
… a mark on the world, declarative evidence of the fundamental existence of the maker.
… a settled mind, a calmed heart, an elevated consciousness.

As I thought about this phenomenon described in our story collection, and in trying to represent the magic of it in a song, I felt reaffirmed about an idea that has compelled me for some time:

All acts of creation — all makings of nothing into something — are acts of the divine.

Here’s what I mean, and pardon me as I get philosophical for a minute:

The entire universe once came into being from a vacuum.
Everything we know — all of existence — was once contained in an undefinable, microcosmic speck of potential.
And in every moment, from the moment of its bursting into All That Is until now, the cosmos continues to expand, in ways that our brains are not yet capable of fathoming.

And … every time we enter into the utterly still, empty chasm of the present moment,
and allow our minds to hear that subperceptual glitch of imagination,
and then feel it move through our bodies and burst into our fingers —
holding a pen,
playing an instrument,
grasping a brush,
weaving threads —
… we participate in the divine act of creation.
Something out of nothing.
A new little universe, borne of the exploration of an intimidating emptiness, and making something meaningful from it.

When you view the act of making from this perspective, it seems absolutely logical and inevitable that the resultant effect felt by the maker … is peace.
A sense of oneness with the universe.
Even if the world around us is chaos.
Even if it lasts only for a precious moment.

Because perhaps ...
each of us — along with everything else that is … the trees, the stars, the sea —
are part of the All of Everything,
which is constantly creating what Is,
constantly beckoning others to join in that holy act,
and in so doing, getting ever closer to wholeness,
ever farther from separation,
ever farther from chaos,
ever closer to peace.

So, here’s to you, fellow creators of the universe.
I’m glad you made some peace in the eye of the storm.

lyrics

These are the days
When the days slip like hours
And the weeks swell like years
It’s an elastic countdown

When every moment
Stretches into eternity
Stretches out onto an empty sea
That’s given birth to everything
Like the birth

When I pick up my pen
My brush, my instrument
And make something out of nothing
Something out of nothing
I dive in the center of this moment
That’s holding all of existence
And make something out of nothing
Something out of nothing
Something out of nothing

When I am here
The war outside recedes for a time
And all the chaos I cannot control
Quietly exits my mind

And from this silence
Comes creation bursting into being
Let there be light, I hear my own voice speaking
This reaction fallout is peace
The reaction fallout

When I pick up my pen
My brush, my instrument
And make something out of nothing
Something out of nothing
I dive in the center of this moment
That’s holding all of existence
And make something out of nothing
Something out of nothing
Something out of nothing

My mind at ease for a while
In the eye of the storm
Making something beautiful
This corner of the universe transforms

credits

from 2020101 (2021), track released May 17, 2021
written and performed by Shannon Curtis

produced, mixed, and mastered by Jamie Hill
at Department of Energy Management, Tacoma

co-produced, programmed and recorded by Shannon
additional programming and recording by Jamie

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about

Shannon Curtis Tacoma, Washington

Shannon Curtis is an artist who works as a songwriter, storyteller, and author. Shannon lives in Tacoma, WA and makes artpop music with her husband, producer / mixer Jamie Hill (deptofenergymgmt.com/work).

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