The author says that her grandfather, Enrique, was a source of great inspiration to her throughout her life. He was born in Puerto Cabello, Venezuela, to Lebanese migrants, and he went on to study as a doctor, get married, become a Red Cross director, and have four children. When he was around the age of 40, he had an accident that forced him to give up his career as a doctor, so he started working for the family bank. He took the sudden change in his professional life in his stride, and took up art and painting at around the same time. He eventually became a manager in the family bank, but in 1970, he was kidnapped by extreme left-wing guerrillas, who saw him as a symbol of the financial system they despised. He was released twenty-three days later. It was a terrible experience, and his mental health suffered significantly as a result, but he didn’t give up; once he had recovered, he decided to make a change, and bought a company that sold prints, lithographs, posters, and books. He built a strong and enthusiastic team at work, and kept his family closer than ever.
The author says that her grandfather’s extraordinary story is proof that crises can lead to rebirth and creativity. The Italian Renaissance, after all, began after the tragic black plague epidemic in the mid-thirteenth century, while the Bauhaus movement, modernism, and surrealism all arose after the traumatic events of the First World War.
There is a clear link between creativity and crisis, almost as if the human mind becomes more fertile and open to new ideas in times of great difficulty. During the recent Covid-19 lockdowns, many people, including the author, began to draw on unexpected resources and to plan new projects. According to Brito, we need to try to prevent hardship from getting us down, and use it to our advantage, letting our sense of urgency and our need for well-being drive our creativity to new heights.