In a world of losses, creativity is the best revenge
Folly Beach is a book-length personal essay about easing fears of mortality and loss through creativity. It begins when writer Steven Harvey, strumming his ukulele, watches his granddaughter dance on the boardwalk of his beach rental and has the uncanny sense that he is waving goodbye to all that matters.
This valedictory feeling clings throughout the week to happy activities with his family. Having just retired from a lifetime of college teaching, he remembers his last classes and the last books he taught. All seems to be slipping away, a common feeling no doubt for many who retire.
Folly Beach never loses sight of losses that the passage of time brings, and the wistful feeling never entirely goes away, but in this book loss doesn’t have the last word. In the face of the grim, Folly Beach holds up the human capacity to create engendered by love as our sufficient joy.
It is the thought of architectural follies inspired by the name of the beach that keeps the feelings of loss at bay. Harvey finds himself looking up those useless and at times poignant buildings that do little more than celebrate their own creation and devises ways for the family to build their own. An elaborate fort made of sand, flattened and swept away by the tides, is a kind of doomed folly on a small scale, but in the making of it Harvey and his family become part of a boundlessly creative universe, and the realization of that simple truth serves as a balm.
Creativity, a gift we borrow from this ever-changing, dynamic, and generative universe, is our best revenge against mortality and the strongest antidote to our fragile, tenuous, and vulnerable existence.