The ultimate goal of Radical Joy for Hard Times is that all places on Earth be loved and cared for. To that end, we recommend engaging regularly in the RadJoy Practice of finding and making beauty in places that are hurt or overlooked. Recently we heard from Julie Johnson of Orillia, Canada, whose interpretation of this practice is beautiful and inspiring. Julie describes herself as “writer, poet, mom, elementary educator of 18 years, co-founder of youth empowerment program Change Agents, founder of The A-Team Art Activism Collective.” She writes:
I think one of my coping strategies for this time and for other reasons has been to roam small and quietly, noticing in this way. I have also started doing a small act of radical joy every day just to honour my feelings. I am leaving little marks of impermanent art around my yard and neighbourhood.
One time I took leaves and placed them in an arrangement at the corner of every intersection I came to. Another time I took some sticks and made a structure and put leaves within the sticks. I did that to represent both the way we had parcelled the forest into pieces and also indicate my wish for the forest to grow beyond boundaries.
Recently when it snowed I stamped a snow heart. Another time I drew a sun circle in the snow. These were to honour the watershed that I live within that continues to be under threat due to myriad reasons.
As I do these gestures I say a few words to myself and the place. I am honouring the changes that have occurred. So for instance I may live among the trees, but this is a domesticated version of the wildness that once existed. I live near a lake that has been in decline, and I honour that that wasn’t always the case. Each time I go for a walk I’m aware of the imprint we have left and I want to show care and recognition and honour our ongoing connection.
The other thing I started to do almost daily is to photograph the beauty in the smallest things around me. For instance I take a lot of photos “beside the side of the road.” The stuff people just drive past has a lot of intriguing gorgeousness. My photos are on my Instagram and Twitter pages. Through taking the photos I have come to develop a very strong relationship with my environment. So that I’ll take a walk and wonder how the cat tails are doing down by the corner. Then I go visit them. I love my place very much.
What if we all made a New Year’s resolution to do the RadJoy Practice more regularly?