A servant of joy.Posted: December 11, 2016
Dad and I were watching the Ethiopia episode of Parts Unknown. There was a scene where the host—Marcus Samuelsson, an Ethiopian-born, Swedish-raised star chef—went back to his home village for a big feast, after which there was music and dancing. Watching it, I started crying. Because Ethiopia’s government is so much more repressive than the U.S.’s, but here are these beautiful children dancing with total abandon by floodlight, and the stars wheel overhead, and witness all things.
I’ve been posting my daily affirmation for almost two weeks, and of course there’ve been trolls who pop up saying the expected “He doesn’t need your consent sweetie” and the like, and it takes me a couple seconds to block them (and the rest of my life to enjoy their not being in it). But every now and then I pause and think, Do you even know who I am? By which I mean, Do you know how much love I was raised in? Do you know how powerful that made me? Do you know how powerless you are in the face of it?
After this election, we must cultivate joy. Not as an escape, but as a resource.
Joy is different from happiness. It is more primal. When it hits us, we can just as easily cry as smile, or fall down as run. Joy comes not from this world, but the other. Art is one of the best ways to cultivate it. And it is armor. It makes us powerful. It makes us remember that love is the deepest reality in the universe, stronger than all things, enduring all evil, including the evil now before us.
This is the closest I’ve come to describing my role as an artist, post-election: I am a servant of joy.
Today is Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday in Advent, when we light the rose candle. In the Catholic tradition, it’s the color of joy.
I know what my prayer will be tonight.