Sunday Manifest: Joy Is our Birthright

A few days ago, I walked into the eye clinic and picked up my frames. For some, this may seem like a normal activity. But wrapped in it were a multitude of successes and things I would consider wins; wins that I would have not acknowledged honestly until I sat down to write this piece. And the reason why I considered this a win, was because of the anticipation I felt as I waited to receive the pickup call, but more importantly for the joy I felt putting the glasses on.

The last time I’d been to the eye doctor was over several years ago. I was always too busy, and, honestly, too broke. I was the father to a growing little girl—so certain things were sacrificed in order to ensure she got what she needed.

When I look back in retrospect, the joy I felt was a culmination of what I had compromised, sacrificed and, at times, avoided because my spirit (and pockets) weren’t aligned with the vision I had of what I wanted my life to be. And so I waited, reluctant to allow myself the joy of things that I get to fully enjoy now: a Kith hoodie, a refurbished Nintendo, an office space. Old me would have been reluctant to not only share this joy with the public, but give myself the room to embrace it.

As a community, we are taught that we have to wait for our joy, that we have to withhold it, either for the sake of others or for fear that leaning too heavily into our joy will keep us away from excelling. So, we wait for retirement. We wait for heaven; we wait for that promotion, for that raise, for that holiday. But our joy is right in front of us, if we’re looking, if we’re open.

There’s joy outside of our window—a newly formed rainbow, the birds chirping, the delightful giggles of preschoolers just being let out of school. There’s joy in the rainfall, in the setting of the sun. There’s joy in flirty breezes of summer, in finding your favorite ice cream or a pack of sour gummies that you’ve been jonesing for over five years.

We tend to wait for special holidays, such as Mother’s Day, or birthdays to show love and express joy and gratitude. We like to choose how and when it shows up for ourselves and others. There is joy in both the giving and receiving. Our joy does not need a qualifier, nor does it need anyone’s blessing. 

We don’t need an event or a catalyst to embark on a journey towards joy. It can be found anywhere, such as in an art gallery, or a museum, or even a plant nursery. Our joy can be in the hug we’ve been waiting on since the beginning of the pandemic; or, the joy some of us found in our second vaccination shot.

See Also
Should Black People Celebrate Thanksgiving? Reposted 11.26.19

We get to feel joy in the here and now. And still get to hold space for the grief and loss that has felt like it’s held us captive for over a year.

Our joy gets to not only be internal, but loud and forward facing. We have been so busy putting points on the board, collecting things and accolades, looking to other people and other devices to bring us closer to the love and joy already inherent in us. But we don’t have to wait for an offering to collectively breathe a sigh of relief. For far too long, we’ve told ourselves we have to withhold it because we have so much work to do. But in actuality, our joy is the work.

Our joy is a part of healing, and a part of our liberation. Our joy is revolutionary.

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