Joan of Arc - Lyrics
Words and music by Angie Nussey
It seems we’ve all begun to notice.
We’re all standing in a line.
Just a step before the precipice.
Waiting for the first to dive.
We don’t need to find a leader.
We don’t need a Joan of Arc.
Tonight, we speak from the heart.
We’ve been searching all directions
for answers we will never have.
Fighting left and right reflections
searching for the flag to grab.
We don’t need to watch each other.
We don’t need a Joan of Arc.
Tonight we live by the heart.
Let it ring out loud in sweet harmony.
As this all falls down
let’s find within ourselves…peace
We have spent our quick reactions
on all the precious ones we love.
Then eased the guilt with our distractions
a breath of calm but just enough.
We don't need a war within us.
We don't need a Joan of Arc.
Tonight, we learn from the heart.
Let it ring out loud in sweet harmony.
As this all falls down
Let’s find within ourselves…peace
It seems in all our foolish wisdom
We’ve left a couple things behind.
But don’t you worry we will fetch them.
All good returning in its time.
We don’t need to search for answers.
We don’t need a Joan of Arc.
Tonight let’s be led by the heart.
If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
Past experience has taught me a few things: I often fight when I should surrender; talk when I should be silent; and try to make a point when I should be listening. I only learned these things after many years of repeatedly unleashing the same quick reactions to varying circumstances. Eventually, I started to experiment with taking a moment of reflection at the height of a conflict (or challenging situation). The goal was to see if I could tap into my most loving self BEFORE reacting. I call this part the “loving self” because it’s an all-encompassing, all-accepting, all-loving self that is a step away from the human, physical form. When I’m about to unleash a quick reaction, I’m learning that it’s a signal to take a moment to step back and step into my loving self. Many times, the connection to my loving self starts with an act of absolute human will….and usually that will is to pause, breathe, and do nothing for a moment. With practice, I’ve grown to appreciate the things I haven’t done, the posts I haven’t made, and messages I haven’t sent, and the words I haven’t said. It has been quite a learning process to train myself out of reactionary behaviour, but the rewards have been astounding. Joan of Arc was written on the night that this learning travelled from my head to my heart.
Quentin(Q) and I experienced a very difficult sixth year of our relationship (see “Chapter 5 - New to You”) which inspired a new commitment based around honesty and personal growth. We were starting fresh, like a brand-new couple who didn’t know each other, and truthfully, neither of us were sure whether we were going to be compatible with each other’s “true” self. This created a lot of insecurity in both of us. This new commitment required questioning everything and a deepening of self-love. We challenged ourselves to reveal who we authentically are... one hidden piece at a time. We prioritized our truths over our relationship and this required that we honour ourselves as individuals and speak from the heart every step of the way.
Almost as soon as our new relationship started to unfold, we ran into a major snag. Q and I were out for a walk and while in a “moment of truth”, we discovered a fundamental difference in our personal beliefs. The difference was that Q believed emotions could be controlled by the mind and therefore were not that important. And I strongly believed the exact opposite...that emotions were signals we needed to pay attention to. Neither of us were prepared to budge. It was mid-February and we were still fragile from our near breakup just months before, plus the long, cold northern winter had already taken its toll. We were both feeling tired and sad. It felt as though this difference could end our romantic relationship for good.
By the end of our walk, the discussion had become heated and by the end of the night, we were both silent and fearful. How was it possible that I’d spent over six years with someone who didn’t believe in expressing emotions, and he with someone whose life and career was based on honouring and expressing emotion! I’d spent all these years talking to Q about how I felt… was I so wrapped up in my own emotions that I hadn’t even noticed the absence of his? Had I spent all this time assuming I knew how he felt, but never even bothered to ask?
I was embarrassed at what we had uncovered and surprised at how strongly we opposed each other’s beliefs on this very important matter. I couldn’t foresee a life of truth with someone who thought emotions could and should be managed intellectually. My assumption was that because I didn’t feel like I had much control over my varying emotional states, in his eyes, I must be of lower intellectual capacity than him. In my mind, this meant that, after all the time we spent trying to create a balanced respect in our relationship, I STILL wasn’t going to measure up. Of course this was not exactly what he was trying to say, but it was definitely stirring up old narratives around our former co-dependent relationship.
As much as I want to argue with him and prove my point, I also knew that being understood and accepted was not the motive in our relationship anymore. The goal was to stand in our truths and let the chips fall where they may.
As the cold war of different perspectives entered our cozy home, we intuitively descended into our places in the house: Q to his beloved lazy boy in the living room and me to my studio. I sat in front of my keyboard/piano and texted my authenticity partner, Lise. I explained the situation and why it was affecting me so deeply. She texted back saying: “You don’t need to fight anymore. If this is your truth, why do you need him to accept it? Just send him love. And if this is the end of the relationship, you will both survive. You’ve done it before.”
Although I didn’t disagree with her, I still wanted to defend my truth and make him see that I was right. The old stories were firing up inside of me. Thoughts were spinning around and around in my mind… I’m not saying we should swim in emotions all the time or express every single emotion we have. I’m just saying that we all have feelings and we can use them as signals to guide us and let us know if we’re in alignment or not! We can’t always intellectually transmute emotions! It just doesn’t work that way!
I asked myself, Why do I need him to agree? Why does this even matter to me?
I was stewing and couldn’t seem to snap out of it. I just wanted to come out of my studio with arguments blazing trying to bend his mind into seeing things my way. I wanted to prove my point, but I also knew I wouldn’t have reached out to my authenticity partner unless something inside of me wanted to respond differently. I was tired of reliving Groundhog Day and I wanted to break my pattern of quick reactions. So, I took a step back and willed myself to step into my loving self. I sat quietly at my keyboard, plugged the headphones in and spun the option switch on. Then I found a sound that seemed to echo how I was feeling. I held my fingers on the keys and let the harmony sing into my ears and through my body. I could feel the vibration of my voice outside of the headphones as I started whispering, “We don’t need to search for answers. We don’t need a Joan of Arc. Tonight, let’s live by the heart.”
That night, locked in my studio, I wrote “Joan of Arc” and then played it repeatedly. I was searching for something... a feeling of peace. I knew I wanted to generate this feeling without the help of Q’s agreement or approval. It took a couple of hours, but finally my heart settled and opened as I sat in the momentum of the music and intention. The Joan of Arc within me finally laid her sword down. I still didn’t agree with Q’s belief, but I didn’t feel the need to fight anymore. After tapping into my loving self, it seemed like a trivial matter in the grand scheme of things. And once I surrendered, I fell asleep with a feeling of peace, love, and relief in my heart.
To my surprise, Q woke me up at 1:30 am and said: “I think you might be right about our emotions and how they serve us.” I opened one eye and groggily responded with something like: “I think you might be right about our ability to manage our emotions so that they don’t take us over.”
And, just like that, the battle was over.
The next day, Q started trying to honour each emotion he was feeling as they arrived. He had done some research online and decided that there might be a way to allow our emotions to guide us. So, like a child who had just discovered a new trick, he’d say things like, “that emotion was disappointment” or “ that one was happy.” It was fun and funny to watch him explore this new concept with interest and excitement. I began to say things like, “I feel upset, but I don’t think I need to, so stand by as I try to reach for a better feeling.” There’s nothing more empowering than realizing you have the ability to make yourself feel better (even if it’s just a little better) at any given moment. There is a decision, an act of will, that is available to all of us and it’s incredibly empowering to know that we don’t have to continue with the same quick reactions. At any moment we can take a step back and step into our loving self.
That day marked the beginning of a wonderful new chapter and the start of a new way of communicating which encouraged us both to take time apart when things got heated. This new dance seemed counterintuitive for both of us at first. It was not easy when tempers were flaring, but we learned that there is a great power that builds within your heart when you can lovingly walk away from a battle. It’s bigger than winning the battle. It’s winning the war… the one within yourself.
My fascination with Joan of Arc wasn’t about her great leadership skills or her strategic ability to win wars, it was about her certainty. She had an unwavering belief that she was right, that the impossible was possible, and nothing could shake her from her heartfelt convictions. When I look at myself, I can see that my biggest battles are fought within my own mind. Certainty can so easily slip from my psyche. I used to see this as a bad thing but as I get older and dig deeper into who I am, I realize that very little of our outside world is ever certain and the only thing that has true value is living by the heart. Decisions made with love lead us down unexpected and incredible paths and what holds us back from the certainty of a heart-made decision is the temporary fall back into misunderstanding and the need for approval or acceptance.
That night, with the help of a friend and a song, I was able to stand in my truth AND step into my loving self. It feels so good to be in this space that I often wonder why I can’t just be my loving self every second of every day. But, I just can’t seem to maintain this state of being all of the time, at least not yet. What I can manage is knowing that my loving self exists and trusting that I can step into this part of myself whenever I need to. I am not always successful at it, but I can only do my best and keep trying. After all, most of the time, I really have no idea what I’m doing.
P.S. The slower version of “Joan of Arc” was written first, but as I worked with it in the studio, I started to like this faster version with its extra verse. I still return to the slow version (song #13) when I need calming and comfort.
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