On Making Space for Joy and Pain

Photo of a prickly pear cactus

Before heading to bed last night, I read a tweet from comedian Ron Funches that said: “Am I still allowed to tweet about wrestling or am I supposed to remain terrified 24 hours a day. It’s difficult to know right now.”

He summed up how I’ve been feeling lately. There are successes and projects I want to talk about with others, but these seem insignificant in comparison to everything that’s going on. When my social media feed is predominantly discourse on injustice, police brutality videos, and doom, talking about anything else feels a bit at odds with the pace of the world.

Yet, I woke up this morning thinking about something I tweeted weeks ago.

An essay I had written for Memoir Mixtapes was published in their Issue 11. It was an essay about a time of joy in my childhood, when my parents, sister, and I often drove through the flower fields in Lompoc on our way to the beach. In my tweet, I mentioned that I wrote the essay (partially) in response to a commentator who said that Black people only write about trauma; we never write about joy. Part of my tweet said:

“We are multifaceted. We can write about pain and joy and love and grief.”

This is an important reminder for all of us now. We are complex individuals capable of nuance. We are allowed to make space for joy alongside our pain. I would argue that it’s almost vital that you do so because with the current pace of the world, you can get swept up in it and lose yourself.

As I’m trying (struggling with an existential crisis, really) to keep my thoughts even-keeled, I’ve been spending more tending my garden and indoor plants. I encourage you to make space and time to relax, to cling to joy as well.

Below is a list (continued from the previous post) of poetry I read for The Sealey Challenge. I’d like to highlight Reginald Dwayne Betts’ Felon, which is spectacular.

American Smooth by Rita Dove

When My Body Was A Clinched Fist by Enzo Silon Surin

For Every One by Jason Reynolds

White Egrets by Derek Walcott

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker

The New Testament by Jericho Brown

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

A Fortune For Your Disaster by Hanif Abdurraqib

1919 by Eve L. Ewing

planting gardens in graves, volume one by r.h. Sin

haruko / love poems by June Jordan

The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes

Calling A Wolf A Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

I Will Destroy You by Nick Flynn

Felon by Reginald Dwayne Betts

Onward my friends,

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