On seeking joy

Well, we’re a week and a half into the new year and 2020 has dragged its sorry behind all the way through 2021 and into 2022. The pandemic turns three this year; a toddler that’s found its feet and is off and running. Like so many toddlers who’ve recently discovered the power of locomotion, this one’s also causing panic and chaos as it goes.

2020 was the year covid unfolded. It was the year the world had to come quickly to terms with the realities of a virus that we were woefully unprepared for. We hit the ground running, we learned new terms, we learned to wash our hands, we made and wore masks, we bought all the toilet paper (really, what was that about?) and we all became armchair epidemiologists and virologists.

2021 was the Year of Panicking Over Vaccines; whether we should have them, whether we had enough of them, whether they were safe, whether we could vaccinate enough of our populace to achieve something like herd immunity.

This year, 2022, feels like a good year to explore how to transcend the survival mode I’ve been stuck in for the last two years, and to find moments of joy and pleasure that can sustain me into the future.

I’ve been thinking about joy and thriving a lot recently. I believe that one of the most powerful ways in which people of colour can resist marginalisation and oppression is to thrive. It is a strident act of survival, of rebellion, and spite is as good, as valid a motivator as anything. But what does thriving look like?

For my parents’ generation, for first generation migrants in general, thriving often looked like the standard markers of success we all think of. It looked like their children (or themselves) becoming doctors or lawyers or engineers. It looked like promotions at work and 30-year mortgages and lasting marriages and children. It looked like bills paid and money saved. It looked like sending money to siblings and parents in the home country. It looked like survival, like just getting on with it. It looked like suppressing or denying creative, soulful parts of their personality so their family could make their way in this new country.

But what about those of us of the next generation; the first ones to grow up in a predominantly white space? What does thriving look like for us? Over this year, I’ll be exploring what it means for me (and maybe also for others) to live joyfully, to live in a way that allows us to thrive emotionally, creatively, psychologically as well as economically and physically.

Obviously, I don’t speak for everyone. No culture is a monolith. We don’t all share a universal brain or speak with one voice. Our opinions are as varied as we are. But this feels important to me to pursue right now.

I hope you’ll join me as I work through what thriving and joy look like for me. I hope you’ll share moments of joy in your lives too. I think we could all use a little more pleasure, a few moments of respite from the pernicious effects of covid and its many variant offspring.

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