A few weeks ago, my brilliant goddess of a social media manager told me to start blogging again. I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to blogging, mostly because I don’t consider myself gifted with words. Along with new photos and an image rebranding, she thinks this is a good start to the incredible things I have coming down the pipeline. She’s absolutely right, but photos bring out the worst in my anxiety, mostly for one reason:
I have gained 30 pounds since “45” took office because I am an empath and cortisol is absolutely flipping real.
It’s no secret that it’s been an EXHAUSTING 21+ months since election day when you can feel the pain of people around you. Feeling that type of pain used to be a gift I could respond to musically. But this level of Weltschmerz and distress can be consuming, and no amount of workouts can compete with the constant alerts from the Washington Post of how bat shit crazy things are in D.C. right now, with seemingly no end in sight.
I’ve worked hard over the past few years to keep my political viewpoints just to Twitter, mostly because I have had some vultures for Facebook friends who would sit and wait for me to post something REMOTELY left-leaning and pounce with fact-less Fox News propaganda. I used Twitter as a non-professional, burner account to both feed my rage to act as well as keep my sanity. I had a modest following, and I could express who I truly was and how I felt without having to answer to my Trump-base Facebook friends and family.
So on Thursday, after hours of tears over Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony & Brett Kavanaugh’s pathetic rebuttal, I tweeted my on-the-nose musical thoughts into a void and went to go teach.
And then it happened…my burner account of a Twitter profile was thrust into the spotlight with one viral tweet:
4’33” but it’s just a woman screaming into an open piano with a brick on the damper pedal, hoping the sympathetic vibrations will be loud enough for someone to take her seriously.
— Heidi Joosten (@HeidiJoosten) September 27, 2018
Overnight, my phone BLEW UP. I was retweeted by Pulitzer winners & huge music critics. One of my favorite composers and inspirations posted a screenshot to facebook. People were sharing it with my friends and family before I could even do so. This notion of screaming into a void with no one to take you seriously resonated with so many people, and still continues to do so.
I tried to remain professionally apolitical. I really did. But this bizarre simulation we’re currently living in feels like no one can remain apolitical anymore, especially if you have an empathic soul and live in the real world.
Besides, who was I really trying to protect by being apolitical?
Art is political. Music, especially, is political, and it always has been. To pretend it isn’t is censorship, plain and simple. Those who would prefer my left-leaning world views don’t permeate my music are fine with me setting their beloved sacred texts, even though the Christian church is not without sin in causing pain and harm to people, even today. Those who would prefer my spirituality stay out of my work because the Church has deeply hurt them make it very clear and don’t commission me for those works. I tried for a long time to not take a stand, but it feels dishonest to the fundamental pillars of what I believe to not allow my love for the world THROUGH my political actions to not shine through the art I’m creating, including my social media presences.
So here we go. You’re about to get lots of updated media from me, appearing far from a model physique and very tired. I may not look like a Kardashian, but I’m continuing to do the work (even if I get anxious every time my phone buzzes with a news update) because the work has to be done. We have to continue to create, even amid chaos, because this is how the world will remember how we responded to our “reality”. My work and writings, including this blog, will be unapologetically political out of love for those whose situations need to be elevated and fought for.
So how do we get up in the morning and create?
1) Out of fierce love and respect, listen to understand rather than listen to reply.
The greatest necessity when learning from anyone is the need to be quiet than the need to be right. Even if you disagree, the best respect in hearing someone out is to truly understand their perspective rather than try to convert them with yours. In my own personal experiences, I have found younger people to be more interested in understanding than older generations, but it hasn’t stopped me from listening. If I am telling or elevating someone else’s story, it is my obligation to understand it fully and represent it in truth, and this applies to casual conversation as much as it does art.
2) Responses, when ready, must be honest AND true, respectively subjective and objective.
You cannot steer wrong in telling the truth, especially when your facts come first-hand. Easy example – if your viewpoint of Chicago came from the news rather than from people who live there, you aren’t experiencing an honest AND true reality. You’re getting only one side of a very complex situation, and that side relies on keeping you scared but providing you with answers so you continue to watch them give you the answers and they keep their advertisers happy. If it isn’t your field of expertise, study up and ask questions – listen to understand.
3) You admit when you’re wrong in order to move on
Much of my worldview has changed in the past 5, 10, 15 years. And as I’ve grown as a human, so have my positions on many socio-political issues. Rather than dig my heels in regarding outdated opinions, I have examined the human aspect of each issue and apologized when previous views hurt someone. You cannot allow previous biases to govern current choices when you’re listening to understand and being honest in your responses out of love for your neighbor – it is literally impossible.
We must act in service of others. Therefore, we must create until we cannot anymore.
It is our moral responsibility.
Ciao for now,
P.S. If you, too, would like to scream into an open piano, check out Void, the piece inspired by this tweet.