Joy is an expansive emotion; it takes up space. Joy stretches beyond us and spills over into the rest of our lives. With joy comes possibility and with possibility comes the opportunity to transform ourselves and the world around us—socially, politically, creatively, financially, spiritually, environmentally, and somatically. As much as I appreciate the power of anger to shape change, I am learning that joy has its own power to shift life as we know it.
Last week, I met with my creative soul twin to continue work on our show. After binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and other shows like Tuca & Bertie—while finishing up my first puppet in six years—I asked her if we could find a way to make our show funny. Fortunately, my creative soul twin has a background in stand-up comedy and was already thinking about how to make what we’re creating more joyful.
The subject matter of our show is heavy. There will be overt and graphic violence. We’re not shying away from making out political opinions known. It’s a powerhouse of a story that will now be packaged in a way that’s funny, humanizing, raw, and real. Because when we look at the world around us, my creative soul twin and I see how hungry the people we care about are to find hope and joy in a world that’s becoming an increasingly scarier place to be.
Fear is a restricted emotion; it cuts out all but the essential. While fear’s healthy expression keeps us alive in times of danger, ongoing fear shuts down our ability to stay open to new possibilities. Fear is what oppressive power structures use to control people. As creatives, the narrative of fear prevents us from doing our best work; we fear backlash, violence or even just being financially fucked for the rest of our lives.
At a time when we need to be taking the biggest creative risks, fear cautions us to play it safe. It makes us believe that our best options are those within reach. In this way, fear sets up a barrier. We feel it and it becomes the gatekeeper; our focus shifts to trying to be less afraid before we take the leap. Except that taking risks will always be scary. As will challenging oppressive power structures like capitalism and patriarchy.
The antidote to fear, then, is joy. Not only do we need to put our necks out there, we need to do so in a way that is joyful. Literally and figuratively, we need to laugh in the face of danger. There is nothing that can undermine power more than joy. Oppression robs us of our humanity; joy is how we take it back. In this way, prioritizing joy in our creative work and our relationship to money is essential if we’re ever going to create the change we seek to see in the world.
What helps you access more joy in your life and work?