Since it was a day home with the kids I was surfing around and found this: Louis C.K. Why I won’t get my kids smart phones. Actually, what hit me upon watching it was not the smartphone thing itself, but his hypothesis that no one wants to feel anything. We are too scared to feel pain, to feel alone, to feel the emptiness that is easily found inside – if you want to look. And it can be filled with various things, food, sex, aimless surfing. Or friends, causes, learning a new thing. There are many shades and colors to the spectrum of things you can do to combat it, from running away to looking it down. But we don’t always think we can look it down, so often we choose to run away. After all, death and emptiness are perhaps the most frightening things we know. The enemy of love is not hate, but apathy, numbness, emptiness.
In my 20’s I thought I was doing well. My childhood years had been unpleasant, but not really because of any outside thing. I was just. . . sad. Always sad on the inside. And in my 20’s, I thought that was all done. I had a boyfriend who turned into a fiance who turned into a husband. I had friends, real ones. I had a real job- in my field even. Had fun playing a ton of video games, listening to soundtracks that would forever burn themselves into nostalgia. The first time my ex-husband and I went to a spa for a second honeymoon, we got it on to the Castlevania 20th Anniversary soundtrack and later, one of our daughters was conceived to the dulcet melodies of The Legend of Zelda soundtrack–I think geekery is in their blood. Ah, long ago and not so long ago. It was so much fun.
But when my first daughter was born, it broke open my heart to a new level and I hadn’t even know it was closed. I had no idea I could possibly feel more than I already did! And I saw pain and vulnerability. . . and light and love. I never liked the color yellow until Rowan was born, but there was no other color to explain how she made me feel. Joy and fierceness. Light and love. Gold and preciousness. Then I had to face what I had chosen to ignore for so long, because I thought I was cured of my melodramatic tendencies. I had to face that even though I had the good job, and the husband who truly did love me, who truly still thought I was sexy as hell, and the children who loved me, I could still feel sadness. Isn’t this supposed to be it? Isn’t this supposed to be it all?
But I think too much. I feel too much. If I have anything to teach my daughters, it is to control their emotions, for if theirs are like mine, it will be one of the toughest things to do–to feel, to really feel, yet not simply react. To think, yet not repress. How many times have I thought that I do not fit, I will never fit in, even if I want to. I just don’t know. I don’t know how people don’t feel, because I always feel. It is just that as I mature, I don’t let it control me so much.
And yet, broken out of the numbness and the conditioning, I have felt love and happiness to a degree that I could die now and never need anything else. That it is perfect, just as it is. Being able to let the sadness and fear wash over you is the sacrifice. . . what follows is so beautiful. In a different time and age, I would have been a nun or a priestess, speaking in tongues and expounding on scripture. But here and now, I am just a divorcee with two kids, I work and perhaps write. I love my friends with a fierceness they will never know, and I never let anyone go internally. I have fantastic dreams of the future, but I still feel so young, so naive. How do I do something good? What good is the gift of emotion?
I have spent so much time useless, getting over myself, wondering why I am even here. . .and now belatedly, trying to figure out what I have to give. I could paint for the world, or write really bad poems. I can do the best I can do at my job and try to make my company successful. I do, very much, like making people happy–when I know what it is that will make them so. I don’t want anyone to feel years of aloneness or sadness like I did.
And yet, we, as a generation, live on a cusp of something great. Really–I cannot imagine everything that will happen in the next 100 years, but I so want to be a part of it. We have more power than we’ve ever had, but if we deny our heart, we will never reach our potential. The fear of sadness, of aloneness, blocks us from being who we truly could be. The lute is only wood hollowed with knives, after all.
Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet : On Joy and Sorrow
Then a woman said, “Speak to us of Joy and Sorrow.”
And he answered:
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.
Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.