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.
“All battles are first won in the mind.” – Joan of Arc
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 years of repeatedly unleashing the same quick emotional reactions to varying circumstances. Eventually, I started to experiment with taking a moment of reflection at the height of a conflict. The goal was to see if I could tap into my most caring, kind and thoughtful 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. 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 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 this lesson traveled 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 was 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. I strongly believed the exact opposite...that emotions were signals we needed to pay attention to for guidance. 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, sad, and frustrated. 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 emotions! 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. 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 seem to have much control over my varying emotional states, in his eyes, I must be of lower intellectual capacity. In my mind, this meant that after all we’d done to create a balanced respect in our relationship, I STILL wasn’t going to measure up. Of course, this wasn’t 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 wanted 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 respective places in the house: Q to his beloved lazy boy in the living room and me to my studio. Thoughts were spinning wildly 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!
Re-loaded with new arguments, I was ready for battle! I headed for the door, ready to unleash them on Q. But, as my hand touched the doorknob, I paused and took a deep breath. I reluctantly stepped away from the door. Arrrghh! Here we go again. Okay, I thought, I’ll reach out to one of my life lines first… and THEN I’ll tell him why HE is wrong! So, I texted one of my authenticity partners (an authenticity partner is a friend who can challenge your beliefs and help you work through difficult situations). I explained the situation and told her 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.”
I pondered her text carefully, but still, I wanted to defend my truth. I paced to and from the studio door, stewing. I was just so certain that I was right and he was totally wrong. I was SURE I could prove to him, through intellect, just how wrong he was (Yes, I realize the hypocrisy in retrospect!). I so desperately wanted to bend his mind into seeing things my way, but I also knew that I wouldn’t have reached out to one of my authenticity partners unless something inside of me wanted to respond differently.
I read her message over again and asked myself, Why do I need him to agree? Why does this even matter? The deeper question was: Why am I so worked up about this? The answer was (as always): I’m afraid… I was afraid of losing the relationship. I was afraid of being seen as “less-than”. But, most of all, I was afraid that my truth was going to be unacceptable, and by extension, I was unacceptable.
What stopped me from bursting through the studio door that night with arguments blazing was the realization that I had been reacting to this fear in the exact same way for many years and getting the same undesirable results every time. Ironically, through an act of sheer will (aka intellect) I decided to hold off on my emotional reaction, at least for the designated waiting period which I had arbitrarily decided would be one-hour. So, with an hour to wait, I sat at my keyboard and plugged in my headphones. I listened to various keyboard samples until I found a sound that echoed how I was feeling. I held my fingers on the keys and let the slow rhythm resonate through my body; my hands changing chords only when they wanted to, which wasn’t often. Eventually, I felt 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.”
Although my words seemed to be about the disagreement between Q and I... I realized I was actually speaking to the opposite sides within myself: my loving self (emotional heart) and my ego self (intellectual brain).
That night, locked in my studio, “Joan of Arc” wrote itself. I stayed at my keyboard, repeatedly playing it long after the allotted one-hour, self-imposed prescription was over. I felt my mind surrendering and my heart lowering its defences. I still didn’t agree with Q, but I didn’t feel the need to fight anymore. I didn’t feel compelled to prove I was right and I no longer needed his approval. I also came to the realization that I’d used my mind to manage my emotions and I was beginning to accept that there might be room for both of our beliefs. And with this surrender, I fell asleep with feelings of 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 with our minds so 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 and decided 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. As Q started to honour his new findings, I began to honour mine by saying 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.”
That day marked the beginning of a wonderful new chapter and the start of a new way of communicating which encouraged Q and me to take time apart when things got heated. At first, this new dance seemed counterintuitive. It’s not easy when tempers are flaring and fears creep in, but we’ve learned that there is great power in lovingly walking away from a battle. It’s bigger than winning the battle. It’s winning the war… the one within yourself.
I should mention that I regretted choosing “Joan of Arc” as the name for this song because it instantly leads to preconceived notions. For example, while in a meeting with a small record label executive, we were discussing the release of my new album “I Have No Idea What I’m Doing”. After listening to snippets of the album while reading through the song titles, he landed on “Joan of Arc”. Without listening to the lyrics, he excitedly started talking about his long-standing admiration for her. As he went on about her strength and courage, I thought to myself what every songwriter thinks from time to time: “Ah crap, I should have chosen a different name for this song”. It’s not that I don’t respect what she did… vive la France, but the song was not written to idolize her, but instead, to represent the idea that humans can evolve into a state where we no longer need a leader to stand behind. We are capable of tapping into the profound wisdom that exists within each and every one of us. As we experience this deeper, more loving state, we can settle our own conflicts. We can be led by our hearts.
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 has been quite a learning process to train myself out of emotional reactions, and I must admit, I am not always successful at it. 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.