Illustration of an oxygen mask against a light purple background

An apology for joy

You are allowed to laugh.

Tanmoy Goswami
Hello there, and a special welcome to all of you who signed up recently 👋🏾. I'm back after my break with a new season of Sanity. I have an announcement to make: I will centre joy more and more in my work. As you'll read in today's edition, this doesn't mean running away from pain and suffering (phew). It merely means that I'm going through a phase when I actively want to be less cynical about the beautiful dumpster fire that is our world. I figured I'd take you along for the ride.

Psst: Don't let all this joyful talk distract you. Keeping Sanity alive is still backbreaking work, made possible by a small community of paying supporters. Quick, join them now or be responsible for the return of my cynicism.

"I'm glad you found me entertaining," I grin at her. "Thanks for coming to my standup act!"

She is the fourth or fifth person in the past two days who's told me I'm funny. It's an unlikely setting for this compliment: a weekend conference on journalism and trauma at Columbia University. A bunch of us have traveled here from all over to discuss the craft and ethics of telling stories about children and childhood, including from parts of the world where being a child is a death sentence, and trauma is so fused with life that a separate word for it seems unnecessary.

For me, used to working alone at 7, 350 feet above sea level, the event is a rare opportunity to be in community. The organisers have asked me to talk about my experience as a parent and writer living with mental illness, share lessons from one of my own childhood-related pieces, and help this group of storytellers, each of them wiser and braver than me, refine their voices and ideas. I feel utterly unqualified for the job. I haven't been on the frontlines, haven't seen the slaughtering of childhood they have. What can I tell them? My neck is itchy with impostor feeling, but I have a strategy to mask it. I will make them laugh.

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