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Living your life with great passion seems to be less appealing these days. You describe how passionate your longing for your lover is, and someone will say, “get over it”. The norm these days is just to buck up and be hip, instead of live the depths of your soul. It’s as if your feelings are so boringly cliché, that we are not expected to divulge them, much less act out a play of expression regarding anything more personally important that getting good seats at the concert. “Yay.” Oh, you’re allowed to have feelings, but they are the exotic animals in the zoo. Well fed, but not free range.

Feelings are not modern. They are relegated to the basement of bygone eras. If you live feelings out loud, you are considered less evolved. We all know where feeling get you, especially the whiny, attention-getting ones of disappointment and fear. In an age of self-help (provided by experts no less, in self-help), we are expected to think above the feelings, or to breathe ourselves into a perfection of anti-ego bliss…everyone can do it. If you haven’t been up to speed, it’s from your own laziness or bad habits or stubborn ego.

Feelings are still a realm of the weak; we have just shuffled them into a factory wherein we need to go ahead and process emotions and then get them over with, whereas the Victorian would simply walk by the poor bastards on the cobblestones in front of the factory door. Perhaps poke them with a brass- tipped walking stick and tell them to move along to their hovel away from here =sniff=.

Love is the one that has gotten approval, though. Love can be all-encompassing, it can be freely given and received, and it should be damn well exchanged with all your loved ones on Facebook, or you will run into some bad luck, like peer judgment. What form must the love take? Why,  the selfless kind of love that can only be shoveled onto your fellow man, of course, and equally, your fella woman! The kind of love extended to homeless people, and folk outside of your race and economic tier. Love is general. Love is timeless, faceless, ubiquitous and hard to list in a thesaurus. But love is not a swelling in the breast, nor any longer a glove on the hand that touches [your] cheek. There is no unrequited love anymore—we are too urbane for such things. What do you take me for, a fool? Love is for the new age what the stiff upper lip was for the pre-industrial age, where we assume we know what we mean by love, but really we only know that we must forward the post and move on or we look like we didn’t get the memo.

Self-love is also acceptable, as long as it is done in approved places and in solitude. We have already done such work in the 1980s and so we can now have patience while you catch up. Self-love can be done on yoga mats and in front of an affirmation-littered mirror in the morning. Self-love is applicable to those who need it…and if that is you, we are publicly happy for you and refrain from scoffing. We know you are not happy, after all, so we are relieved (we thought we were the only ones).

Because to choose happiness instantly is to have no emotions. Do you see any happiness written on the faces of the Tibetan monks? I think not. They have such utter, inner peace, they have no time for emotions. Time is relative, and whizzes by without notice, like every other fly- buzzing thought in a meditationer’s head. In this moment, there is only the pure, unadulterated joy of bliss. True connection does not involve sturm or drang. If you think bliss is happiness, think again. Happiness is an emotion, but bliss is transcendence. Duh.

Emotions, we know, are messy and selfish. Emotions point to problems, and we don’t have any of those anymore. Just blanket love and blissful nothing. Those are the approved vehicles to evolution. Feelings, we must acknowledge and release, like a trapped bird in your daughter’s bedroom.

We poets, the ones who are wringing our guts out, are doing it all wrong. We have for centuries. No one wants to taste the syrup of a dripping soul. No one wants to be reminded that we are not yet perfection. The problem with emotions is that you have to feel them. For in feeling them, we can experience them. We can express them when we feel them; we have gotten into trouble by expressing them when we may have kept our mouth shut or played it cool.

Feelings have a bodily shape to each, and in playing them out, we have to commit to some sort of shape other than the previous shape we had assumed just then. Emotions take us on a journey, and that takes up our valuable time. And what if the feelings aren’t as pretty or as chic, or as ambitious as we hoped they would be? What if my feelings don’t qualify me for a raise?

Sure, we will have them anyway. You boast that you feel them all the time. You even let them run free, when you are screaming in your pillow at night. You watch them run wild in the back yard when you’ve had your pinot noir and can laugh as loudly as you like on a Saturday night. Because really, everyone should understand you need to let loose now and again. You have emotions quietly in bed with your mate, and you even cry when someone is looking. Sometimes. When no one is looking, you say to yourself that if someone were there, you’d cry anyway and show society that you could!

When you are smart, you seek emotions out and want to cleanse yourself of the bad ones. But your smarts get in the way, and make it impossible for your feelings to feel like anything but unwanted foster children. Too many mouths to feed as it is, with ambition, body self-acceptance and healthy conflict resolution. Poor feelings! How can we spare the compassion we know we should have? We have created rehabilitation centers for the felt emotions instead. There are treadmills, stretching mats, and of course sexual interchange rooms. Felt Emotions (FEs) are seen through plate glass windows, pumping iron in logo T-shirts and spicy pink stretch pants. They are belly-up, wrapped open over a bouncy ball, and told to lift just the left leg and hooooolllld it. FEs are doing double duty on the laps in the pool, and coming out pruney. But we do not let them mingle with society.

We do, however, let their representatives, their paid advocates, run reenactments on the TV screen. We’ve recorded them and will watch them later in all their “reality”.

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