Hallie’s blog inspired me to do my own freewrite. Maybe you have some thoughts on this.
The other day at the beach I saw a young mother, who was obviously exhausted, aggravated, and maybe regretful, struggle with her load of three kids. While she packed up the two boys, her infant screamed and cried in its babyseat. To my horror, the mom turned around and shooshed it. Straight up, not an iota of motherly nurturing, just “SHHH!”
It made me wonder: at what age did it become necessary for us to regulate the frequency, rate, intensity, and visibility of our emotions? What or who has made us incapable of feeling and expressing our emotions in the raw and unfettered way that children do?
Breath: Alternative healing methods like yoga, meditation, and chinese medicine show that because of the high levels of stress in our modern industrial society, most people do not breathe correctly. If you watch a newborn sleep, you can see its lower abdomen rise and fall as its diaphragm contracts and expands. This is the natural and instinctive way to breathe. Emotion: An “emotion” is defined as a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood or relationships with others; an instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.” Breath: Most of us take short and shallow breaths that fill only the upper regions of our chests. Emotion: Most of us follow our reasoning and knowledge rather than our instinctive feelings.
Like the natural way we took breaths as babies, so to have we lost the ability to express our instinctive feelings in the uncensored way we did as children. Do we blame this on our parents who, after raising other children, struggling to support us, attempting to always do the right thing, and always responding to our needs, finally burned out and told us not to cry? Do we blame it on our schools and workplaces, which tell us to focus on the production and reproduction of statistical evidence/information and ignore anecdotal evidence and personal experience/expression? Do we blame it on the friends and lovers who have broken our hearts, who have made us feel stupid and foolish and childish for feeling at all, who have forced us to numb ourselves so as not to get hurt again? Or do we blame it on ourselves, our own worst critics, who, when we forget for a moment to switch off the lights on our emotions and a tear or sob or heartbeat gives us away, belittle, shame, and punish ourselves until we swear (subconsciously) never to feel again, or at the very least never allow anyone to know that we feel?
I can stand in a room full of strangers or spectacular people that I love and wonder if I can find even one strong pulse among us. We numb ourselves to our bodies, which ache from sitting at a computer, or jumping cliffs, or manual labor, or birth defects, and when we stop feeling our bodies, we are only a leap away from being unable to feel anything at all. And the worst part is not that we numb ourselves so that we don’t get hurt, because it is our prerogative to choose how, when, or even if we express emotions. The worst part is that when we numb ourselves to our own emotions, we become numb to the emotions of the people around us. We begin to shame and look down upon other people for feeling or expressing how they feel. We become so unmoved by the emotions of the people around us (both loved and unloved), that we use our own numbness as a defense mechanism against having to take accountability for our actions. We so badly want to avoid getting hurt that we take on a holier-than-thou attitude and deny our own capacity to hurt others. We say, “If I have hurt you, it is only because you let me. You should have been numb. You should not have felt anything.” Which is unfair to the person we hurt and to ourselves. Experiencing what it feels like to hurt someone else is as natural and necessary as feeling hurt. It is insensitive, inhuman, and unrealistic to deny our own culpability simply because the world of emotions makes us uncomfortable. Emotions, so intangible, so ethereal, mutable, inconsistent, non-binary, full of shades of gray, full of confusion, fully capable of bending your knees, weakening you, and making you face yourself, scares us, makes us uncomfortable, unsure, and guilty. No one wants a guilty conscience, so instead we deny our emotions.
Science and practicality teach us that if you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist (which has led me on more than one occasion to question electrons, gravity, and the discipline of physics as a whole). So just because we cannot touch love or taste hurt or smell sadness or hold happiness (unless you’re holding a big wad of Franklins), we deny their existence? And who is to say we cannot see or taste or touch these things, after all they say horses can smell fear, right?
I have watched my dad boil sea animals out of their shells so he can display their lifeless exoskeletons in his shell collection. When I object on moral principles, he justifies his actions with the fact that these creatures “are not sentient beings.” Humans are sentient beings, that is, we are “able to feel and perceive things.” But because of intelligence and physiological adaptations (e.g. the opposable thumb), while we as humans have been able to focus our energies on modernization, technology, and the growth of our intellects, our senses have slowly faded into the background. Which makes us no better than the slimy sea slugs my dad boils out of their shells. I find that more and more humans, armed with endoskeletons (because those are more evolutionarily advanced) actually create a facade, a feigned exoskeleton or shell so that no emotions can penetrate in or escape out of us. But if we cannot see or touch this make-believe outer shell that so many of us have built, isn’t this defense mechanism just as fictitious as we try to pretend our emotions are? If we are so intent on denying we have any emotions, why do we try so hard to build a wall around things we claim don’t even exist? The fruitlessness of this inane cyclical pattern should be enough to make us stop. But the ways in which we knowingly abuse and neglect our emotions and the emotions of others is simply like any of the other things that we know are bad for us but which we do despite our better judgement. Plus, how can we expect others to be delicate and tactful with our emotions when we set a bad example by treating our own like we would a pestering mosquito?
So what is the solution? I am not suggesting a total no-holds-barred, orgiastic, excessive, free exchange of emotions. If we all expressed every emotion we felt in a way that reflected the magnitude of the emotion felt, global warming and melting ice caps would be the least of our worries. We would surely drown the planet in tears from all the fucked up, heartless, irresponsible, emotionally-stunted shit people have done to us and all the cruel, cold-hearted, selfish, emotionally-reckless shit we have done back. I don’t really know. I’m just thinking out loud.
Jeero is the only “person” who never makes me feel bad.
He likes the beach.
He doesn’t even need to watch ANTM to make his arms look skinny.
Jeero got cold.
He flirted with Ashley.
Jeero and uke.
Legit cowboy. Bareback, feather around the horse’s neck, bandana around his neck, cowboy boots.
Lets got to the beach everyday for sunset.
Except not Muir because the sunset isn’t that good there.