“Joy is an act of resistance.” — Toi Derricotte
We have a new song for you.
It’s called “Armed With Joy,”
and it’s the first song from a whole new album that’ll be out June 15th.
Here it is, presented with an unapologetically joyful video we made to help tell the story.
The video features footage taken by friends all over the country during last week’s March For Our Lives.
Big, BIG thank you to our friends in HI, CA, OR, WA, ID, NE, TX, OK, MS, IL, OH, NY, NJ, VA, of course DC. (And one location in Italy, too!)
If you attended your local march like Jamie and I did here in Tacoma, you know how even though the ideas and actions we marched for are serious, there was a palpable sense of joy and celebration in the air.
The role of joy in this context is something I’ve been thinking a lot about the last few months, and just below here you’ll see I’ve written a bit — ok, sort of poured my soul out — about the transition and transformation I feel I’ve been going through, and which draws a line from the record we made last year to the record we’re making for you this year.
You might call it a thesis statement.
Or a mission statement.
Or something like that.
So. If you’d like a deeper, closer look: read on after the video.
I hope you en-JOY it.
So here’s the juicy stuff:
I heard a quote recently, written by a biographer of Pablo Picasso:
“His work was what he was.”
When I heard that, something clicked. When I take a step back to look over the last handful of years, I can see that who I am and the work I do have been merging more and more. I see the line between who I am in my heart of hearts and what I create to contribute to the world being smudged and blurred and all but erased.
Is this what happens as we get older?
Do we uncover a more urgent need to live outwardly in closer harmonywith what’s inside us?
Maybe there’s a blessing that comes with aging: a sloughing off of reasons to care about how others might judge, as we peel back the layers aroundour truest selves.
I am *certain* that living and creating within the context of a loving community of supportive people — like many of you reading this now —has allowed me to explore what this merging looks like in my life and my work. You have been the oxygen my lungs required for going hard in this race.
And so speaking of breathing …
For over a year now I have been holding my breath. Maybe you have been, too. Waiting in helpless moments for the next inconceivable wrecking ball to so carelessly swing through the pillars and joints of this place where we live. Bracing myself to absorb the pain and anguish of those most immediately struck by the falling debris. Trying not to let my mind imagine how it all comes crashing down around us.
I wrote a record last year while holding my breath. While clenching my jaw and curling my fists. I was broken and hastily bandaged and bearing a brave face for the fight.
And the really good news is that I now know what I’m fighting for.
The other good news is that
I’ve learned you can’t hold your breath forever.
And so this year … this year
I’m learning how to exhale.
The poet nayyirah waheed wrote this (very tiny and poignant) poem:
so that you can be free to feel something else.”
I’m learning to exhale so that my lungs are free to fully take in
the new morning air.
A cleansing waft of lavender.
The sea salt brine of an ocean of possibilities.
And so that my body has the breath it needs to move and dance andbelly-laugh and sing out loud and call to my friends to join me inowning this moment.
Because if last year was discovering that there is a chasm between us,
that a vast gorge lies between the now
and the day in some future when fountains of justice flow free,
and believing that love is what fills the space between;
then this year … this year is exploring how that love lives out loud.
How JOY flies in the face of hate.
How celebration subverts the fear required for strongmen to hold power.
How the rapture of this astonishing place in which we live,
and the breathtaking people with whom we live,
roll out the red carpet to welcome that new day we are waiting for.
That new day we are creating.
That new day which *will* come,
and which we will greet, hand in hand, with a big smile.
Come with me. Let’s dance.
Love and a heart full of joy — shannon
ps — If you’ve read all the way through to now, first of all, thank you.
Second, if you’d like us to bring this message of unflinching joy to your house on our 2018 House Concert Tour, we’d love to do that. Email us for more information about becoming a creative partner in our big adventure of community and art this year. We’re taking applications now through April 13th. xo — s+j