joy scouting: the unexpected blessing of losing my driver’s license (again)

I’m mostly writing this to share a music video with you in case you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing it yet. Sincerity is Scary has become a Monday morning ritual.

Breakfast, coffee, cuddles with the kiddos, quiet reflections, the to-do list and then BAM! A brief date with YouTube.

Trumpets and a kickass lazy beat. Flowers for strangers. Hopscotch. A piano falling from the sky and a split-second nod to Michael Jackson. Old-fashioned choreography. Gang vocals. Pink clouds. An Art Deco cinema.

My face hurts from smiling. It calls forth joy left, right, and center.


But on a deeper level, this video is a visceral reminder to stroll our neighbourhoods awake, eyes and heart responsive to the world outside. For that reason, I feel compelled to share this video publicly. We can learn a thing or two here. Poetry is in the streets, y’all. Seek and ye shall find.

(As an aside, I’m leaving the subject of sincerity out of this reflection because there isn’t enough time tonight to open that shiny can of tapeworms. We’ll get there eventually.)

In case you’re wondering, this form of people watching is one definition of joy scouting.

In recent months, I have forced myself to buddle up in my pillowy black sleeping bag coat, leave the house, and stroll our unfamiliar neighbourhood like Matty Healy. It helps that I don’t have the luxury of driving anymore. Thanks, epilepsy. Ha.

Joy scouting is an antidote to stress and depression and—surprise!—it’s terrific fun if you have excellent music blazing trails from your eardrums to your tippy toes. Sneakily dancing in public is a favourite pastime. (The 1975 specialize in pop-heavy strutting songs, btw.)

Successful joy scouting requires one to stay nimble and pull off headphones at every legitimate opportunity to engage a stranger in pleasant conversation. This, I’m learning, is a lost art with the generation coming up after me. Somebody’s got to help them out though, I guess. It might as well be me, the friendly neighbourhood epileptic who needs to air out her overcast thoughts and seek silver linings.


I know I’m one of the thousands who endure waves of depression. I’m not the only one who’s watched her identity—the one she once held dearly—slip between her fingers and drift beyond reach. Many of us experience this kind of slow-motion robbery.

Each passing seizure has stolen something from me and left me in a shadow of depression, even if only for a week or so. The thief seems to enjoy stealing my sense of control. That and my driver’s license. Pffft.

Yes, I have moderate control over my seizures. I can monitor my environment to some extent, ingest my bloody expensive medicine, and prevent triggers as much as possible but ultimately, control is elusive.

PSA: No one is fully in control.

Even kale-toting healthy people living their best lives with equally healthy bank accounts and a handsome collection of darling succulents don’t get a free pass. We’re fooling ourselves if we think we’re ultimately in control of our lives.

I think the blessing of living with this form of epilepsy is spending each day with an acute awareness that life is fragile. The human body is not invincible. Self-care is non-negotiable. As a result, values are often front and center and days are generally more fulfilling.

Stress. Sleep deprivation. Anxiety. Nutrition. Exhaustion. Sometimes I wonder if people choose to live in a perpetual state of frenzy because they subconsciously believe there’s a trophy waiting for them somewhere.

Four hours of sleep? 80-hour work weeks? Who are we kidding? We are dust. Our lives are too precious to casually throw them into the wind. Life is a gift worthy of honour, not a means to an end.

I sincerely believe that if we could all take Matty’s lead and approach daily life with this playful posture, the world would be a better place. Depression would loosen its grip on us all and we’d be better neighbours. Who knows? Maybe there’d even be a marching band. Let’s take to the streets and find out. You know I’ll be there now that I can’t drive. Again.

Enjoy the video.


4 thoughts on “joy scouting: the unexpected blessing of losing my driver’s license (again)

  1. PsychicSewerKathleen says:

    Thank you for sharing this great video! It is joyful 🙂 I couldn’t agree more heartily that we delude ourselves into believing we are in control and we must work to find opportunities to smile with another and dance whenever we can.


  2. Gillian says:

    I don’t know what made me think of you and your wonderful writing style today but I am so glad I clicked over and found this new musing of yours Elissa. I can only guess at the depths of things that have been happening behind these paragraphs and am so sorry for the grief that entered your life in the form of ‘things lost’ but I thank you for your willingness to look for the beauty within and beyond what is happening. I share your love of secret public dancing to the headphones and your rejection of burying one’s face in the smartphone. Whatever pace it goes, keep writing, your words are blessing. From a fellow pedestrian xx


    • Elissa Joy Watts says:

      Thanks, Gillian. Redemption is on the rise and we are mightily encouraged but wowzers. The pricetag on genuine and lasting joy is steep. It’s worth every tear though. Keep dancing, girl. xx


  3. Amanda Popovski says:

    Just found you through Simplify Magazine, you are a rich and beautiful writer. I’m glad I found this after an intense therapy session today exploring why humans are flawed and why we were possibly put on this earth if only to do so much bad in the world… but I have faith that the small joys can somehow redeem us, or at least buoy our spirits until the dark cloud passes. Thank you to your 2019 self for sharing your experience and thank you to your 2022 self for being awesome.


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