Our First Beat

Updated: Jul 19

Welcome to the Art Beat, “BEAT.” For today’s BEAT, the subject is joy.

Lizzie (my business partner at Art Beat) and I were talking about the next phase of Art Beat last week. We finished phase one, which was to make it through the holidays, so we can check that off the list and finally take a deep breath now that January is here.

We were having a case of the Post-Holiday blues, which is the phase following the Regular Holiday Blues. Below is a visual. These are names of real paint colors, and I decided to forego the color blue for the name, Frozen in Time, which says it all for some of us about the holidays.

brought up joy with Lizzie during this conversation, noting to her that Art Beat has been a dream of mine for several years, and here I am with the opportunity to actually make a dream come true, but I was not sure if it was bringing me joy. And then we started questioning joy in general and wondered when was the last time we felt joy anyway, and then we looked at each other with a puzzled expression. Lizzie said “Jazz Fest”, which was before Covid.

The last time I recalled noticing a distinct feeling of joy was sadly even longer than Lizzie. It was when we got our second dog a few months after my late husband died. It sticks out in my memory because it felt odd and reassuring that joy could curl up in my lap during a time that was so dark. It was a similar feeling to looking out the window one evening that first winter without him, and the excitement of seeing a rare big white snow in Nashville that lit up the entire night sky.

When I think back about my conversation with Lizzie and these memories of joy, the question is more what keeps me from noticing it? I don’t need joy to light the way as much as I did after losing my husband, and I know despite my mind drawing a blank, I have had many moments of it since.

All of this lead me to think about lightning bugs because like the joy I recalled, we see them when the sun sets but then where do they go? I now have a lightning bug theory about joy. Lightning bugs are nocturnal, which is why we see them most often at night in the warmer months, but during the day, they sleep in the tall grass so unless we are on our hands and knees crawling, chances are they will go unnoticed.

I was lucky to have moments in darkness when I could see joy wag its tail, or the light of the moon bounce off the snow. These fleeting flashes which can seem so small and ordinary can be camouflaged by the light of everyday life, and joy does not always come with sparkles, even though ads tell us differently.

Lizzie and I are not therapists or philosophers, or ones to say “find your joy,” rather we are better at punchlines, so I feel a little corny finishing this wrap-up of our conversation, but here goes.

The next day, Lizzie and I were working at Art Beat, and we were talking with customers and delivering our one or two bad punchlines like, “everything in our store is local except for Lizzie. She is from New Orleans, and that is the last place she felt joy.”

When these customers left, I don’t remember who said it first, but we acknowledged that we both felt joy in talking to our customers. And that was the beginning of noticing what brought us joy that day (we promise there was more to it than bad jokes).

Our conversation about joy from the day before then segued into maybe we don’t feel joy because we don’t really know who we are. It reminded me of once hearing someone say “I am middle-aged, and I realized when a waiter asked me how I liked my eggs cooked, I don’t even really know.”

The rest will be revealed over time, but I think that paying attention to moments like this at Art Beat that brings us joy, will help us create a space that is truly us. It is like the universe is dropping us all little clues and we should follow.

When we do, we may find ourselves back to a summer evening chasing lightning bugs. Our senses were sharp back then. The smell of honeysuckle was everywhere, we saw each branch that might trip us when we played tag, we heard ourselves beyond the loud noises of the world and knew exactly the right moment to clap our hands to catch a lightning bug.

Lizzie and I are grateful for all of the love and support we have received from family, friends, artists, and the community since opening Art Beat a few weeks ago. The result of our conversation is that we decided to hire Joy to be our CEO, and Curator but the CFO should probably be run by “Reason”, “Practicality” or “Impulse Control”. We are interviewing those candidates now.

As we move out of post-holiday moods, the color we are anticipating is “Cheerful Whisper.”

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