“Breathe, Zawadi, Breathe!” These words expressed as intervention, not during a time of distress, but because laughter had overcome my daughter. She was turning purple, her eyes full of tears, she was laughing so hard that her basic bodily functions (like breathing) were momentarily derailed.
There were four of us in the circle that day, three girls ages 8-13, and myself as their host and informal facilitator. It was a relaunch of our ‘black girl magic club’ that we began last year, but had been put on hold in the last few months due to the pandemic. We had opened our circle talking about the impact the coronavirus had on our lives. One of the things we all missed most was being able to be together in this way, telling stories, sharing what was on our hearts, and laughing so hard we forget to breathe.
We gathered outdoors, under the cedars, just above the pond. We had all been holding so much in the first half of 2020. In addition to severely restricting our lives, we had all, in some way, been feeling the ripple effects of unnecessary violence and the corresponding demand for justice it had inspired.
Our world is on the precipice of either unraveling or resurrecting—both equally uncertain and possible. In that moment there was nothing more important for us to do than be in each other’s company, remembering the divinity of our bodies, reconnecting with drum rhythms that were gifts from our ancestors, affirming our connection to a strong and resilient lineage of people who had learned to fly.
I have made a decision not to live cloaked in foreboding darkness. Not in rejection of darkness itself, because that too is a part of life, but in an acceptance of the gloriously complex and light-filled beauty that is life. Every single moment offers us an opportunity to choose joy—a state of being so much more deeply abiding than it’s more fickle and evasive friend, happiness.
In that moment, under those cedars, wind caressing our skin, the choice became so very easy. We reconnected with our breath—letting the waves of laughter wash out all of the unnecessary gunk. It was a full body experience of joy, just what our weary hearts needed most to survive the end of the world as we know it.
Expect the end of the world.
Laugh. Laughter is immeasurable.
Be joyful though you have considered all the facts.
from Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front by Wendell Berry