NOA & JOY
February 9, 2018
Some people get very uncomfortable when I tell them I am working on a project about grieving, and about the importance of it for our individual and collective health. And honestly, I’ve been surprised at how challenging its been to get some of those folks I consider most dear to me on board. Yes, folks are busy and distracted. Yes, folks have a million other things to contribute to. Yes, people are over-inundated on the web. Yes, people are struggling financially. And yes, this project is absolutely not going to be for everyone. But also, the feedback I’ve gotten is that people are uncomfortable with the concept. I take that as a good sign—as a sign that the project is doing work, getting some to squirm a little, indicating spots of vulnerability. But I’d like to think about how this project might support folks in leaning into, rather than away from, that vulnerability. And so, I’d like to spend a few moments to focus on a different aspect of NOA that might help folks ease into its concept of grieving more easily, namely, its relationship to JOY.
It is about how that primal cry from the gut that we feel when we lose something we love dearly is inextricable from that primal laughter that makes our abs hurt when we are overcome with joy. It is about the moment and our trust in it. It is about taking risks to be with ourselves..."
NOA, in some ways, is as much about JOY as it is about GRIEF. The project is committed to the idea that both joy and grief are manifestations of our feelings of deep connectedness to each other, and to the world around us. These natural expressions are what relates us directly to the moments we are in with ourselves, our surroundings, and with each other.
So yes, NOA is about grief. But it is also about joy. It is about how that primal cry from the gut that we feel when we lose something we love dearly is inextricable from that primal laughter that makes our abs hurt when we are overcome with joy because of something we love dearly. NOA is about our trust in that connection. It is about taking risks to be with ourselves and with each other through improvisation, even if what comes up is uncomfortable or ‘disruptive.’ We emphasize grieving because we see its repression as being related to a lack of collective joy. We hope that greater support for healthy grieving will open up the possibility for the healthy joy that is its counterpart.
"The dreams inside of us, just like the feelings of loss and joy, are good enough."
I’m so thankful for this project because it is asking me to practice what I preach. I’ve had to learn how to be okay with making folks uncomfortable, an ego lesson for those especially trained to put other people’s comfort first. It’s been a ride of leaning into the extreme vulnerability. So, here’s to all of us following our visions for a brighter and more caring social landscape, and working to overcome the fear that obfuscates our feeling connected to each other.