Recently I have been struggling to celebrate and find joy when it feels like the world is falling apart, when there is too much to mourn on this little blue speck. It seems I have lost some of my emotional elasticity.  I can’t move from fear, and grief, and outrage to amusement and joy so easily. Maybe this is just what being in your mid-thirties is like. Maybe it has something to do with an infinitely more connected world that our brains originally evolved to process. Whatever the reason, I am wearied by the constant need to feel all there is to feel about our world, and be present to the very real things I can do anything about. Yesterday I was at another rally for Mission Nurses United, who are still bargaining for a fair contract from HCA.

Tomorrow, I begin travels for the rest of June, heading west to attend two weddings: my brother’s as well as two close friends. I love weddings! I love the anticipation, the rituals and decor, and I love the celebration. And I love dancing! Dancing for me is giving over to joy in a way that feels effervescent and that connects me deeply to the divine spark of life. And, while we are dancing and celebrating, we are staring down a scary election in the United States. Then there are the ongoing wars in Palestine and Ukraine and Sudan. And there’s the Asheville housing crisis. And… It gets hard to feel all of it at the same time. But this is the case all the time and not just when the facts themselves are overwhelming (i.e. dancing at a wedding while there’s war on the other side of the world).

We don’t even have to go as big as the whole of earth. There are enough people in our community for us to always have reason to celebrate and reason to mourn, reason to rest, and reason to stand on the corner and shout. So then why rest or celebrate when the mourning and shouting feels so much more pressing? Because we burn out if we don’t rest, our anger boils dry without joy and love in our lives. Or at least it does for me.

That is joy’s purpose for me. When I feel the rough and ragged edges of my own emotions, it is a time to weave in threads of love and hope. It is time to store-up that love and hope, letting it feed my own strength and stamina. I hope that the effervescent joy and love of my dancing allows me to march that much longer and to shout that much louder when the time inevitably comes. And I hope that it may be true for you as well.

Trevor Johnson

Connections Coordinator