2017 has been fine for me personally, but HOLY SHIT THE REST OF THE WORLD. It’s been like a hate parade meets a parody of all that can go wrong with human rights meets a low-budget reality show meets The Handmaid’s Tale.
If you’re in the wildly disorienting, WTF IS HAPPENING I DON’T UNDERSTAND and WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE and also WHY DOES IT FEEL LIKE MY WORLDVIEW IS CRUMBLING phase, you might need a bit of help before you go charging into the rabbithole and start volunteering eighty hours a week at assorted nonprofits. Not because they’re not worthy, but because a foundation built of scratching, screeching despair and fear won’t last long.
First, reclaim your joy.
You’ll want to gird your loins against the sort of grief and hopelessness that can take you down for weeks/months/years at a time.
That’s where Joy is an Act of Resistance comes in.
Is joy the most important thing you can do for the resistance in the short term? It doesn’t seem like it! It seems frivolous and wasteful, and how can you be talking about confetti and wonder and delight at a time like this, Kristen!?????
Is keeping your joy the most important thing you can do when you look at the span of the next three years or decades? I would argue that yes, yes it is.
When you’re able to re-frame whatever is happening without being flooded by waves of despair and only despair, you’ve got more of your own internal resources available to you.
When you’ve got full access to your own resources — to your energy, your breath, your wisdom, your intelligence, your experiences, and your voice — the hard work of making meaning is much easier.
The hard work of consuming the news (IT’S SO FUCKING PAINFUL RIGHT NOW), educating yourself about what’s going on and what’s led to the modern day happenings in a historical context, and then choosing the most potent ways to usher justice into this world is much, much easier and far more sustainable when you reclaim joy as an ally.
Listen in for my personal how-to’s on reclaiming joy. (If you’re like, KRISTEN WTF DO YOU KNOW ABOUT JOY!? I’ve been battling clinical depression for the entirety of my adult life. You can watch Joy is a Choice right here. By becoming intimate with despair against my will, I’ve become intimate with joy as a means of survival.)
This topic is tender, which means you can easily fault me for saying all the wrong things or for prioritizing joy when I should be prioritizing X. The thing is: without joy, I don’t ever get around to whichever X I’ve/you’ve/they’ve deemed most important.
When I fall into bed weeping and powerless, I do absolutely none of the work I’m capable of doing to make the world a better place.
It’s only by reclaiming life’s wonder as it presents itself to me that I can broaden my horizon past the edge of my bed frame, my door, my front step — and into the world at large.
Without joy, I devolve into a puddle of despair.
With it, I’m capable of sharing my knowledge, my money, my time, and my voice with the world.
The same is true for you. From that place where you can access joy and humor and delight and the thrill of being alive, you are perched to take part in the resistance in ways the world has never seen.
You’re prepared to take anger and fear out of circulation, to consider old problems from a new angle, to make phone calls to politicians just to say they’re doing a good job, to plan events and marches and secret activities that are pulsing with life but not with derision or rage.