"What day is it?" we used to ask every morning. Now we ask, "What year is it?" and the answer, sadly, hasn't changed in a very long time.
It's still tough out there. Here at Vocal, we've seen an influx of stories with strategies, ideas, and musings regarding the state of the world — collectively and individually. Collectively, people are excited to vote, act, and take part in controlling what is in our power to control, and we love to see it! Individually, creators are digging deep to find new ways to cope and express themselves.
The first three stories in this roundup revolve around a common theme: finding joy. It's a topic we can't discuss enough, because in many ways, it's the only important topic that exists. We all want and need joy in our lives, especially now. How are you seeking out joy? For a glimpse into the minds of some of our favorite creators, keep reading! If you're not already part of the Vocal community, sign up here and lend your voice to the conversation today.
Virtual Life Gave Me Hope for My Real One
Games have been an integral part of my life. I met my husband on a Pokémon discussion board, and somehow that’s not the story I want to tell today. I want to talk about Final Fantasy XIV online, and how living a life in that game has guided me through the darker parts of my own life.
Like we said, the first three stories this week play into a common theme: finding joy in new and unconventional ways. This year, we are all about the discovery of joy within and around ourselves, because we need it!
In one of our favorite stories this month, Jennifer Black destigmatizes video games as a form of therapy, and takes us deep into a virtual world where limitless potential awaits the bold and adventurous.
While I couldn’t leave the house in real life, my character could do so much. She could go out and mine precious metals, letting her live out my fantasy of having an honest job characterized by hard work and financial success. She could help build a new residential district. She could fight enemies that towered over her, while the real me faced invisible foes like depression and despair.
When the real world is tearing apart at the seams, this is a place where you can believe for a second that things will be okay.
My Attempt at Being Consistent
I have always wanted to wake up at 6am, do some morning yoga, maybe go jogging, or even for a light walk, shower, eat breakfast, then start my day. Who knows, maybe I can even read a chapter of my book before the actual day begins.
Sadly, this is not my life.
We have all discovered a "new normal" this year. Quarantine has left many of us without jobs, activities, and routines. Ah, how we miss our "normal" routines! This year, Jaliene Collard discovered that her new normal is characterized by the very thing she was trying to avoid: inconsistency.
I'm pretty consistent when it comes to brushing my teeth twice a day.
But...that is about it. Literally, that is it.
"Comparison is the thief of joy," they tell us, and we try to listen, until the three jerks who control our social media intake (yes, we watched "The Social Dilemma," and we're still having nightmares) remind us that our friends live in an A-frame on a mountain in Colorado. What a perfect "quarantine normal" they must have, right? Thankfully, Jaliene has inspired us to remember that "the new normal" has no definition. We are free to find joy wherever and however it suits us: through video games, as Jennifer did, or even via inconsistency itself, like Jaliene.
Comparison: Unfounded and Paradoxical
Speaking of "The Social Dilemma" ...
Just the other day I was talking to one of my dearest friends about scrolling for what seemed like miles through marriage proposals, baby showers, blissful travel, and lives of glamour, even during a national pandemic. Why were we so overwhelmed with the successes and joys of other people, driven even to a state of near panic?
The issue, of course, is comparison.
To close out our little "finding joy" series, philosopher and creator Kamilah Nall talks psychology, and takes us into the nitty-gritty of why we can't stop scrolling. Through analysis of Maslow's hierarchy of needs and Zena's Paradoxes, Kamilah presents and dissects an interesting argument that might help us break a toxic habit, and find joy in the freedom from unfounded comparison.
The Art of Crying in Public
A particularly stressful day on the New York subway, paired with an emotional Billie Eilish song, had up-and-coming blogger Jesse Pardee on the verge of tears. Instead of holding it in and booking it home, Jesse made a radical (but really not-so-radical) decision:
I decided that this day was as good a day as any for a good ole public cry. Call me dramatic—but every once in a while, I want to remind EVERYONE around me that not only am I a human being with emotions, but I ALSO don’t give a f**k about your comfort.
Jesse's account of run-ins with a cat-caller and a cute guy during her "good ole public cry" had us cracking up, and her passionate defense of owning your feelings had us standing in solidarity. We're with you, Jesse! By the way, next time you feel a subway cry coming on, we've found that a corner seat on the D train is a pretty good spot...
Travels of a War Bride
In the papers is a document called an “Application Form – Transportation to Canada For Wives.” It records Dad’s personal details. That is name, service number, date of birth, the head of his family in Canada and personal details for Mum.
Alan Russell begins the story of his parents' meeting and courtship by explaining that he, like his father, is in debt to the Royal Canadian Air Force. After serving in WWII in Europe, Alan's father Doug found that, due to a clerical error, he and some fellow soldiers had been overpaid and actually owed the RCAF money. Doug worked off the debt while stationed in the seaside town of Bournemouth, England. It was there that he met and married Alan's mother, Merle.
Using notes and documents saved for decades by his parents, Alan pieces together the story of his parents' romantic courtship and marriage, and Merle's journey from her home in Bournemouth to meet her new husband in the remote wilderness of British Columbia. Despite numerous hardships, the strength of his parents' 60+ year marriage speaks for itself. We are very happy they never threw anything away!
Rare Full Hunters Blue Moon On October 31
There will only be six full moons on Halloween in the entire 21st century. Add a blue moon and you have a recipe for disaster, according to some...
We would be remiss if we let this roundup end without reminding you to be on the alert for some extra spookiness this Halloween. The "Halloween Blue Moon" is quite rare, and could mean many things, Vocal legend Cheryl E Preston tells us. But, as is often the case with the supernatural, we will just have to wait and see. While you're waiting, check out her full story for the science behind Blue Moons (not the beer, although it is Friday, so bottoms up!), as well as its integration into pop culture and more.
We hope this roundup brought a little bit of joy to your life today. Reading your stories brings us joy! So please, keep it up, and we'll see you again soon.