Pursuing Joy

T. Thorn Coyle linked this article on either Google+ or Facebook (or perhaps both), with the message that activists, caretakers, etc, shouldn’t forget our own happiness.

We do burn out. We become lost in hopelessness and despair. We forget to take care of ourselves because we feel so small in the face of the overwhelming odds that threaten to keep us oppressed, that threaten to keep our brothers, sisters, and sithers oppressed. The whole human race is in serious trouble the world over, and activists know it, and we work to stop it.

We forget self-care.

We forget that self-care is activism. 

I forget it often, and I’m a huge proponent of self-care being every bit as important as marching, or blogging, or writing letters, or getting thrown into jail with your fellow activists.

We forget to pursue our joy, because we feel guilty for being happy.

I know. I’ve been there. I’m still there. Being an activist is hard work, and it tends to wear down even the most resilient of people. The more crap you see in your quest for justice, the worse you feel for the happinesses you have. What is the point of your own happiness, you ask, if others are still oppressed?

It doesn’t help that there are so many examples of privilegefail where people say “Well I’ve never dealt with this problem, and I’m happy, so it must not exist; why can’t you just be happy? Stop looking for reasons to be angry!” We start to equate being happy with that brand of privilegefail; we start to avoid being happy, as if the only way we can keep our heads in the game is to be miserable. 

Well, to hel with that.

Since discovering I want to live, I don’t want to be unhappy anymore. I want to live. I want to embrace life to the fullest; I want to truly be alive. I want my heart to burst with the joy it carries. I want my joy to be as strong as my anger.

Assessment time: what brings me into the present moment? What energizes me? What motivates me? What keeps me alive? 

It didn’t take me long to figure out.

  1. Writing.
  2. Performing.

Those sound fairly general, however, so I should specify. Writing fiction and poetry, specifically. Sometimes writing a whole host of blog posts does energize me, but sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I just feel tired — because blogging is part of my activist work, and I burn out. So in the context of what consistently keeps me alive and joyful, what consistently helps me pursue joy, I limit “writing” to fiction and poetry.

And performing…I’m quite burned out on traditional theatre at the moment. But I love to perform my poetry. On Monday, I’m heading into town to perform my poem Blood Candle at the Vancouver Slam. (It’s all videotaped. I’ll share it here after.)

I also love burlesque. So I’m going to focus on physiotherapy and strengthening my back so I can actually do burlesque. I’m also going to look into doing film, perhaps, in the near future. Maybe try for some small TV roles.

I’m making it a goal to pursue joy. It is my hope that doing this will energize me for the rest of the Work I must do, and energize me for the work I must do. (Spiritual and what pays the bills, respectively.)

What energizes you? What brings you joy? What makes you feel alive?

3 Comments


  1. Yay! Very cool. The poetry reading sounds courageous and the burlesque sounds flipping awesome.

    Sometimes it does seem like it takes bravery to express even balance much less joy or happiness. As if these things are unimportant or that they will somehow allow for tragedies to continue unabated. When I am in a place where it is if happiness itself is an offense or something to scoff at, I know then that a piece is missing.

    I wonder how many people find these questions as challenging as I do. I do not have answers at the moment, but I wholly believe they are worth consideration and dedicated action. Oh my, I think I must call upon the sillies. They tend to bring happiness for its own sake with them when they visit.

    Reply

  2. “I want my joy to be as strong as my anger.”

    Oh my. This. This has blown my mind. Every time I peek at your blog I learn something new, am inspired and have the bounds of my world pushed a bit more. I love it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us this way.

    What brings me joy and energizes me? Public speaking. I am a fiery speech writer and deliverer. I love being up infront of a crowd speaking my truths and feeling and hearing their responses. I think I would make a great politician, as at least half of that job is a kind of theatre in this way. If I could use my gift (honed through years of public speaking competitions) to create change (and pay the bills) I’d do it in a heartbeat. Instead I blog and hope whoever wanders by hears me.

    Reply

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us this way.

      You’re very welcome! I’m daily humbled and thrilled by the comments from my readers; when I first built this internet home of mine I had no idea it would be so welcoming to others, and it makes me happy that the things I share have such meaning for people.

      I don’t think I’ve seen you deliver a speech, but I can tell just from our conversations that you’d be amazing at it. Have you considered doing a vlog via Youtube or, perhaps better, Vimeo? That’s definitely a way to speak publicly without needing to leave the house, and while it may not pay at first, there are people who have built up careers via online video channels. I can totally see you becoming a huge online success via vlogging. :)

      Reply

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