Recovery of creativity

Recovery of creativity

In his novel, “The Master Sniper,” Stephen Hunter’s main character, Shmuel, is a Jewish man who miraculously escaped from one of the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. This story takes place during the time when the war was coming to a close. During the days following his escape, Shmuel makes his way through the forest and travels many miles overland. Finally, he somehow ends up in the hands of the American Army who feeds and clothes him and helps him recover his physical strength. Before the war Shmuel had been a writer and a poet; however, due to experiencing firsthand the horrors of war, death, and the abuse of his fellow Jews at the hands of the Nazis, he was unable to think about writing. His creativity was completely stifled due to his grief. One of the common reactions to grief is that — for a period of time — a bereaved person finds it very difficult to think. Thus, one enters a period of time that is described as “non-cognitive.” During this time functions such as thinking, planning, remembering and reflecting are very difficult. The length and duration of this period during which thinking is difficult varies with each individual because each person is unique; each processes his/her grief experience in a different way; and the severity and intensity of each grief experience varies. However, after a certain period of time, Shmuel has a new thought that Hunter describes as follows: “As he waited, a curious thing began to happen. It occurred to him that there would be a future. For the first time in years he allowed himself to think of it … Shmuel began to think of a new way of life…” (page 265). Here we also see the link between thinking and hope. Suddenly Shmuel begins to think in terms of metaphor, which is a definite indication that his capacity for creativity is beginning to reawaken. He thinks metaphorically about the death camps and all that has happened to the Jewish people who have suffered beyond description. “And from that there followed immediately the recognition that he was, for the first time in many long years, thinking of literature again” (page 263). This recovery of cognition and creativity continues. “An immense pleasure spread through him. Look at me, he thought, I am thinking again” (page 265). This illustrates a significant point about one’s recovery from grief. One can tell that he/she has turned an important corner in recovering from grief when they experience a reawakening of thinking and creativity. ——— Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com. Published in The Messenger 6.19.08

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