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Two words. Six letters.

What do they mean to you?

In the first week of joining Theatre in the Mill, these two words were discussed in our team meeting. They’ve been swirling randomly in my mind amongst the never ending to do lists, waiting for a quiet moment when I could stop and reflect upon them.

In an increasingly fast paced world, when was the last time you sat with your thoughts rather than your mobile phone?

It takes a pandemic to shock the world into stopping and taking care of oneself. Then again, it must be recognised that it’s easier to live life running from place to place, activity to activity than to sit and look into the abyss of self-reflection. Yet, here we are. Stuck at home. A rare slow in pace.  The usual to do list is frozen in time. I’ve cleaned, exercised, organised and re-organised the house so all that is left is to reflect and write.

Whilst organising, I came across a diary that I wrote between the ages of 12 and 14.  Although I didn’t see it then, it is now clear to me that whilst growing up art was a form of escapism, a glimpse into a lighter way of being and exertion of energy in the truest form.
The daughter of immigrant parents with enough on their plates. Finding creative ways of expressing myself that didn’t cost them anything was paramount to helping me cope with constant change and uncertainty at a young age.

I recently read the Arts Council England’s 10-year strategy and a piece of text caught my attention as it encapsulated everything I love about art and creativity.

“Creativity and culture…they allow us to reflect and comment on society, to better understand our own lives and those of others, and to occupy a shared space in which we can debate, present alternative views, and discover new ways of expressing our anxieties and ambitions.”

Arts Council England, 2020, pg4

On those days when the going gets tough, physically or mentally; this will be one of my ‘go to’ texts to remind me of why I chose this sector and what the purpose of what I do is. It will bring me a moment of appreciation, like when the Sun shines on your face and you stop what you’re doing to let it bathe you.

Leading my thoughts effortlessly to the second word; joy.
Joy can be an illusive concept. A fleeting moment before your busy mind takes over and immediately begins to over analyse the situation throwing doubt or fear in the path to joy. When experiencing great moments, have you ever caught yourself catastrophising that very moment in your head? You’re not the only one.

Art has the ability to transcend that negative mechanism because it has the power to transport you to such a different realm of being.

Art is sharing thoughts, it’s vulnerability. Sharing that space with others means being true to yourself and accepted by others which leads to belonging. The opposite of belonging is fitting in. Fitting in requires mimicking behaviour and moulding yourself to sound and look like others.

For me, a world with no art is a world without joy too.

Has the current state of the world made you feel vulnerable?
Me too. Feel it, reflect on it, create and eventually Joy will come. And when it does, let it wash over you like sunshine on a Spring day.