Find the Joy

There is nothing like a city coming together.

I live in Oakland. I am a massive Golden State Warriors fan. It only stands to reason that I would go to the victory parade held his morning in downtown Oakland. I did and it was so much fun. Still, I had a moment of hesitation just before. Not just because I have a toddler and the very logistics of taking him into a dense crowd in the sun for hours on end didn’t sound terribly easy or appealing (I was able to find all the workarounds necessary to make it work and he had a blast!).

But because in these troubled times, nationally and globally,  I actually think twice in a way I never would have even a year ago.  With so many acts of violence, so many angry and disturbed people with weapons and the sole intent to hurt and silence the rest of us who are just trying to live our lives as best and kindly as we can, it’s hard to keep the fear at bay.  I’m not saying it is a deciding factor, or ever-present issue, but it’s an element of consideration now.

However much of a factor it is, I still can’t let it rule me. We can’t let it rule any of us or prevent us from living our lives and connecting with one another. And I’m so unbelievably pleased that I didn’t.

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It was needless worry.  Instead of shifty characters or stressful shoving, there were kids running around, couples taking selfies, multigenerational families laughing. It was an incredibly congenial and happy event. People from all over the Bay Area were there to celebrate our boys. We were all so proud, so thrilled, so pleased with this positive representation of our city and the vibe was just good and joyful, in the purest of senses.

The Warriors are special. Steve Kerr, the head coach, talked a lot this season about the guys playing with joy. It’s work, but it’s also important to remember it’s just a game. Find the joy in the work. This victory celebration was not just about winning the Championships for the second time in three years, or for the redemption over the Cavs (which was delicious in and of itself, of course), but about all of us being joyful. Letting ourselves exist in the joy.

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It doesn’t get more joyful than your mayor riding on a flame-throwing, steampunk snail

It’s been well-documented (I mean, by me), that I have anxiety. I don’t really talk to people I don’t know much. But today was another story. None of that social anxiety was there because we were all friends today, united in our love for this team.

I chatted with everyone around us at the parade line.  A child near us shared his toys with my son while we waited for the parade to get started. I found another mom who lent me sunscreen.  I had a hilarious and revealing conversation with a grandmother who works for the Giants and had met Kevin Durant (!) the week before. She told me she’s originally from New Orleans and makes her homemade gumbo for the playoffs and finals games, but you’re not allowed to eat it if you can’t name a player from the Warriors prior to 2014. She’s no fair-weather fan. I loved her.

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This may certainly not be the case for everyone, but I feel like I owe the Warriors thanks. I’ve been so devoted and thankful to basketball this year for the diversion and happiness it’s brought me since the presidential election. I have struggled to move on and find my footing in a country that feels like it is imploding. I have been hesitant and wary of finding connection with others outside my inner circle for fear they actually support and believe in the ideologies of this administration. But basketball has been pure joy. Just fun. When story after story comes out about the world falling apart, you need a proper buoy to keep you afloat. You need to find the joy.

The moments of connection have come in these most surprising ways and it’s because of the Warriors. It may be ridiculous, but we need to find the light wherever we can. I am grateful to live in a city, among good and interesting people. To find these multifaceted sports fans and see the goodness of humanity, in contrast to the terror on our screens. To be able to chat without anxiety and go to a massive event and feel filled up and excited by it, instead of afraid and worried. This team, this year of basketball, has been a blast and a saving grace from the world around us that is more troubling by the day.  And for that, and so much more, I feel joyful.

‘Til next season, Dub Nation. Be joyful. Stay golden.

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