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Home | Episode #48
Faith of Joy and Ordinary Magic
November 7, 2019 | Student Producer:

Lily Yates
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Faith of Joy and Ordinary Magic
Gill Sotu presents two poems about finding happiness in the mundane. (11 minutes)
Gill Sotu

Uh, so I'm going to talk about two things in my poems. I'm gonna do two poems. Uh, so the first one is, is going to be, uh, about the faith of joy. Uh, I had the privilege of going to Mexico two years in a row. There's an organization that, they just study and try to know everything that has to do with joy, you know, and it's called the Gathering of Joy. You can look it up and, uh, I got to perform. So my assignment, it was just an amazing assignment for poet, is to discover like what really joy was for me, you know, and how I believe my faith interlocked with, with joy. So this is the first poem that I'm going to do.

I believe in joy. I believe in joy like my mother believes that prayer is the strongest armor a person can put on. Like my son believes that I am literally the strongest person in the world. I don't correct him. Like my wife strongly believes that there are always chores that can be done, even on a Sunday. I believe joy is inherent but easy to unlearn. I believe joy is inherent but unrecognizable in an Instagram lineup. I believe joy is inherently a part of us but gets diluted when we make choices that keep us isolated, apart from us. I believe joy is analog and not digital. It is all natural and not manufactured and this is more of a feeling than a fact, but I kind of believe that joy doesn't visit Florida very much. I'm just saying, just my opinion, just my opinion. I believe joy cannot be swallowed, injected, snorted, mounted or screwed.

I believe joy is, real joy is about mastering perspective and that it's the belief that everything, I'm talking, everything, is for your benefit, even the pain. I believe joy is a horizon and that it always seems beautiful and far in the distance when you look outside of yourself for it, until the day that you look down and recognize that you are a part of that same sunset, and someone else is looking at your accomplishments and their horizon, both of you, a silhouette in your own pink and purple dusk, saying to yourselves, "I want what they have. There is my joy." I believe collectively we all have this Gotham complex and are always secretly wanting, uh, waiting for someone to come and save us, but that's not the place where joy lives. You ask my three year old son, he will tell you I know Batman personally and I'm telling you joy, Batman told me, joy is in the rescuing.

Do not be ashamed of that. You see, the receiving of the, of the present is always nice. You can, any of you can always give me a gift, but the, the real joy is of the giving, that is how we are built, that's why we call children God's gift. The opportunity to serve serves our spirit more than anything else. I mean, let's be honest, children are the whiniest, clingiest, most destructive things on this planet and that's when they're still cute before puberty but, but, but, but we love them anyway cause all we could do is give onto them, pour into them. Ironically by taking the focus away from us, joy is placed within and I don't know how that works exactly. It may be magic but I believe in magic. I believe in joy. I believe I wrote this poem because I desperately needed to hear it because I keep looking for joy in all the places where I know it will not be, curse you Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles.

I believe I was meant to stop here on the way to my sunset and that all of you are part of my purpose. So here we are on this pink and purple horizon and maybe for some of you it is bright yellowish blue, and for others your life is in the middle of its afternoon, and far in the distance, far in the distance are the people and the successes that you covet. And in between that, in between that is the reason that you were made. In between that are the people you were meant to serve on the way to your horizon. Do not forget to look around you in the dust in the corners where the light cannot quite reach. Believe it or not, that is where your faith is. That is where your joy is, right here, waiting to be served in your own communities. What a joy is it to know that real joy has never been out there. It's always been closer than you can ever imagine.


This one's about perspective and I believe that, that your faith is your perspective. And um, I have the belief in the faith that there's magic everywhere. I call it ordinary magic and sometimes I make myself see it, uh, often, uh, because if you go around thinking that you're missing it all the time, then you think there's no magic in your life and that can lead to a depression. So, uh, when people, someone opens the door for me, when somebody, you know, pays for my drink, like, uh, I, when someone gives me a compliment, a lot of times when people give you a compliment, the first thing you do is no, no, no, no thank you. Or you try to, you, uh, you try to give them a compliment in return, an empty compliment. I always have of the belief that when someone gives you a compliment, it's like a gift. And by rejecting it, you're rejecting that gift, you know, accept your gifts. That's, that's part of ordinary magic. That's ordinary magic to me. Cause it doesn't have to happen. You know? So this is the last poem and it's called Ordinary Magic.

It must be magic, because no one can tell me how love really works, how it is able to die daily online and reincarnate in the belly of a laugh, an unexpected embrace, an anticipated first kiss. Now tell me there isn't magic in this. It must be magic because my parents met when they were 11. They divorced when I was 11 and got remarried again when I was 34. True story. I am now 11 anew, still rocking Transformer t-shirts. Slightly larger of course, but excited again to see my parents hold hands once more. Speaking of children and magic, magic and children, my first son, Jackson, he is three years old. He wears Batman and swells his chest. He, he protects his mama like his daddy did when I was his age. I too was the Dark Knight who didn't require the night to be considered dark.

Uh, I called myself the chocolate Avenger. My, it's a true story, my father, he took it one step further. He used to dance around his house in his sister's tight, tight ballerina outfit. He used to steal that and then a towel wrapped around his neck, also playing the role of the Caped Crusader. Now that's three different generations of superhero, all fighting the good fight, all trying to fight the bad guy. Now we all use our words to battle injustice for a living. My father, he's a high school guidance counselor. I'm a socially conscious playwright and poet. My son, he's the best of all of us. He shrieks when he laughs, and when he does, pain and depression suddenly dematerializes from our house. It's like a big cartoon pow or bam above his head, like Batman when this happens. Now tell me, there isn't magic in this. Now, why is this important?

Because ordinary magic is disappearing at an alarming rate. I know that there are some smart nerds in the, in the crowd that don't care much for this poetry stuff. So for you, I have a John Hopkins statistic. Lisa Yannick, NPH, has found that positive people are 13% less likely to have a heart attack or other coronary event. Dr. Edward E. Jones from the University of Michigan has found that people whose explanatory style is pessimistic exercise less and smoke and drink more than do optimists. Dr. Peterson from Princeton University has found that our expectancies not only shape how we see reality, it actually shapes reality itself, and the most telling of them all, the most telling statistic of them all is, Maxim Magazine says, if you're positive, you just have more sex. So there you have it. There you have it. Ordinary magic. I see it everywhere. Hiding in plain sight, loving for no good reason.

A black man with no fancy education getting to speak to you good people here at USD, armed with only a disturbingly, disturbingly, disturbingly handsome face and a pocket - why are you laughing? - and a pocket full of passion? Imagine, 10 years ago, I could barely afford ramen, now for a living I write pretty words, and I married an even prettier, frugal woman, and people no longer laugh at my credit scores. We must change the definition of what we call faith, what we call the miraculous. Now Disney will have you believing it happens instantaneous. But true magic doesn't just happen by the snap of the fingers or by evoking some incantations. No, true sorcery, true faith, true magic in your life is the moment that you recognize that sometime in your existence, you've been through your own personal hell, right? And somehow you're here today on this beautiful day, and you've survived. And if need be, you could do it again, right? Now tell me there isn't magic in that.