I cannot imagine looking back on life without viewing out 2013 as a landmark year. In 2013, I fully supported myself without regular employment (#FreelanceArtist). I produced my (to-date) most successful play, in every sense of the word, particularly the ones that matter to me: more joy was created with From Denmark With Love (the making of it and the sharing of it) than anything else I’ve ever done, by far. I wrote my first novel; I wrote a song cycle; I received my first commission and wrote an opera. A vampire opera. I’m devising and directing a new play with high school students.
Life is beautiful.
But I don’t see those accomplishments as the important aspects of my year. Rather, 2013 is a year in which threads of came together into balls, and bows, that I could grasp and go “A-HA.” Like big LIFE Eureka times, in ways that I already know will redirect my life from this year on.
The big theme of the year for me was Joy. I’d like to share a few thoughts, and I hope you’ll share yours in return.
An Economy of Joy
Imagine for a moment you have none of the training you have about the world, society, how it works. Money does not exist. You don’t have to have a job, you don’t have to pay rent.
Imagine you were brought up to believe that your sole goal in this life was to create more joy, for yourself and others.
What would you do?
And now imagine that everyone was trained to aim their energies towards that same goal: creating more joy. What would that world look like?
For me 2013 was a time when I saw the flowering of how our world might thrive on joy. It was the year in which I saw, again and again, people choosing to take time from their day to be creative, loving, and surprising, all in the name making someone smile.
What if JOY was the basis of our economy? What if you got a point for every smile you brought into the world? Five points for every laugh? Ten points for cheering up someone who was having a rough day; one hundred points for throwing a block party and bringing your neighborhood togeter.
And what if you paid your rent with those points, bought food with them? What if you had to earn 500 laughs a month, just to keep a roof over your head? Imagine if everyone in the world had to.
We’d either have a lot of laughter or a lot of homeless folks.
2013 is the year in which a world of this nature began to take shape for me. Not only the imagination of it, but the world itself in action.
Here are some of my favorite moments, when members of our species chose to take a moment to love, create, and bring joy to another member of our species, just because…
- Letters for Scotty
- Aaron’s Last Wish
- Pay It Forward Starbucks
- Remembering Karim
In my own life this year I experimented with this new economy, not intentionally, but stumbling into it, like feeling your way to a light switch in a room you don’t know.
During From Denmark With Love, I made a bet with our audience: if we sell out a performance, I do my curtain speech dressed as a Bond Girl. I came out in Ursula Andress’ white bikini, in Tatiana Romanova’s ribbon choker and bedsheet (with nothing underneath); and – one night – completely naked except for gold body paint, a la Goldfinger.
In July, with the help of the cast of Denmark, we started the Boston Theatre Bowling League. Thus far, we are unvictorious. But we have swank team uniforms.
In August, on Facebook, I hosted International Dress Your Morning Beverage Like a Unicorn Day. Fourteen crazies turned their coffee mugs into unicorns.
In September it was GAMTAOS Day (Give a Mohawk to An Office Supply); 23 silly souls jumped on baord to bedeck staplers, laptops, pencils.
In November, for my birthday, I sponsored International Dinosaur Appreciation Day. Over 100 people created pictures, videos, and stories. After 8 hours of meetings and no Facebook access, I discovered this glory on my phone and broke down crying on the Blue Line, overwhelmed with joy at all the sillyness that had poured forth.
The craziest thing: people thanked me for giving them something fun to do.
The thing is, what has worth is up to us. What a community chooses to value grows in worth. If we perceive a company, or a product, or an action, to have more worth than another, that thing’s value goes up. It’s all arbitrary; we choose it.
So why not choose Joy?
Spend 2014 spreading more joy than you ever have before. Pick a goal: Make one person – a different person every day – laugh. Or write a song, make a video, that makes people laugh, and work to make sure 10,000 people see it. Give someone an accident, a surprise, and opportunity they would not have had otherwise.
Create room for wonder in someone’s life.
Do it over and over again.
Choose joy. And give it to someone else.
Imagine that world into being. And see what happens?
With Love and Laughter,