Song 09 - That Happy Day. Click to explore themes and stories relating to this song.

Sometimes the best way to create peace and presence in your life is to make something.

Stories and Remembrances


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. (click to continue reading)

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. 

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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 (click to continue reading)

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

words and music by Shannon Curtis
published by Shannon K (ASCAP)
all rights reserved; lyrics reprinted by permission

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If you have a story to share about creating peace and presence by making art in 2020 — or if you want to share something you made — please send it to Jamie at jamie@misfitstars.com.

  • melissa m.
    I wrote new songs, released an EP, and taught myself the ukelele during the pandemic! { Click on Melissa’s name to reveal a streaming player where you can listen to her pandemic EP! }
  • kerri b.
    I started recovering my couch with blue jeans (not suitable for donation) after my dogs ate parts of it. Almost done. It has pockets. It started cuz I was bored and we had a fucked up couch and no funds to replace. Now it’s fun. And beautiful. { Click on Kerri’s name to see her… Continue reading kerri b.
  • loretta g.
    I discovered that I can paint with watercolor paints. I have used it as a means to brighten everyone’s moods. Out of the 40 paintings I’ve done I’ve kept 2 or 3 and given the rest away. I have decided to grow and share my journey with everyone by creating copies of my paintings on… Continue reading loretta g.
  • matt s.
    In 2020 I wrote a Celtic instrumental album, as I needed to chill and centre myself and figured so did lots of other people. This year I’m just finishing off an album of old African American spirituals and slave songs brought up to date in a bluesy gospel style — a homage to those often… Continue reading matt s.
  • beverly t.
    I took a 9 week playwriting class and we workshopped our scenes with a live zoom reading by professional actors. I loved each week’s assignment. I’ve also had an overflowing of creative ideas for my garden by designing a succulent labyrinth path in my front yard, a Mediterranean “secret” garden on my shady side of… Continue reading beverly t.
  • kathleen o.
    Nuts. I painted nuts. { Click on Kathleen’s name to see her nut paintings! }
  • angela d.
    I dove into my fabric arts. Quilted a quilt and sent it away as a gift. Started on another for my bed. Gardening my acre of land kept my sanity. You can see some of my work at draz.us. { Click on Angela’s name to see two of her quilts! }
  • nane d.
    I took up piano playing, and found such joy with it.
  • anonymous
    Playing my keyboard, crocheting, singing in a choir.
  • jodi i.
    I started painting kindness rocks … which has now evolved into also taking art lessons. A definite stress relief, and it’s so much fun to use a different part of my brain. { Click on Jodi’s name to see some of her kindness rocks and drawings! }
  • pearl r.
    Pandemic poundage perpetrating my gut Am I in a rut? Oh the bologna, the provolone cheese Is that what puts me at ease? Oh wait, there’s always a cocktail, make one please Make it a double before I cause any trouble. Oh what’s that in the rubble? My old pants that no longer fit over… Continue reading pearl r.
  • melissa t.
    YES! That is what my entire concert ‘Compassion for a Modern World’ was all about!
  • christina w.
    My Bang on a Can/Märzmusik Festival commission was about this. The piece is first about all the things, activities, and intimate moments that I have missed in the physical presence of so many people in my life. The second half is a meditation on what happens now, next, on time, and life. If you click… Continue reading christina w.
  • lisa l.
    I sketched through the stages of grief after losing my brother, and discovered I have this talent. When I sketch … I am at peace. A feeling hard to describe 
  • jan s.
    I started painting again. Just for me; brings me peace. 
  • robin b.
    I wrote tons of new songs. Am currently recording my 4th album remotely with a new bunch of musicians. I dug down and worked in my digital audio workstation a ton … discovered a different writing process from what I’m used to after 20 plus years of writing. Considering how messy 2020 was, I have… Continue reading robin b.
  • diana h.
    Painting is very therapeutic for me. I listen to music and get in the zone. { click Diana’s name to see a couple of her paintings! }
  • aakriti a.
    I started to make alcohol ink earrings at one point, and what started as a project I had wanted to try for a long time just for me turned into a fundraiser for our local food bank and public schools! I made earrings and sent them to my friends if they donated. It was really… Continue reading aakriti a.
  • sasha k.
    I decorated my windows with fun drawings and made one look like an aquarium, another like a garden, since a section of our apartment building overlooks an alley full of giant trash dumpsters and I wanted to give my neighbors a nicer view during quarantine/ limited socializing. I’ve also been coloring mandalas and giving them… Continue reading sasha k.
  • terry b.
    I made a fuck ton of pie. I miss having access to a pottery wheel so I make pie instead. I make about 120 or so a year.
  • addison r.
    I wrote some of the best songs I have in years. I also got back into visual art, and writing more confessional type posts & articles as a means of processing all the craziness.
  • robyne c.
    Each day of May 2020, I took a picture of the view from one of my windows in my house. Wanted to celebrate the good and have to admit some days it was tough. Same red tree, different view. It’s all about how we look at things.
  • tiffany r.
    Relaunching my art-based non-profit for people with dementia infused my life with a deeper meaning than ever. And for my private creative time, getting back to multi-media collage and journaling about what each piece is telling me about myself has been incredibly grounding and enlightening .
  • seán k.
    Christiane and I wrote a book, and even got to teach 4 seminars on it at Pepperdine University. Carved a chess set. Built a clock. Shot a short film with some friends starring my daughter. Racked up about a dozen new art pieces. Best was the time playing music with the family. Overall a pretty… Continue reading seán k.
  • lynz crichton
    I wrote a bunch of songs to make sense of 2020, but there were a couple that I even asked my Crichton Clan to let me know how THEY were feeling about it, so I could write about their experiences. Those were the best songs! I hope you enjoy the songs. There are actually 50… Continue reading lynz crichton