When our child was ill, my task was to directly address her illness with an emotionally written letter. I was to tell the illness how I felt, about or toward it, or how it made me feel.
Three days of toil produced words born of emotion, but laying bare only thought and opinion. That challenge to produce expressive discourse full of feeling was riddled with notion and conviction of purpose, while lacking passion. Such analysis had merit and value, but I had so missed the deeper inside of myself that it might have been mere opinion drawn from a detached stranger. Those mindful barnacles of human grief remained anchored to my thoughts, thus hidden except from me.
Why, I wondered, could I not find letters for my aguish? My internal emotional awareness was no less keen than my intellectual understanding of the presence of the illness that was harming our family.
Knowing my feelings was not enabling my telling about them. Had I created a self, unable or unwilling to express feeling? I wondered deeper if I had co-opted with a force to create an emotional Dorian Gray. Were my feelings doomed to be confined in the shadowy attic of my mind? Had I become so adept at emotional deception that I habitually prevented expression of feelings? Had I become factually superficial and emotionally shallow, thus apparently less than a human lacking outward feelings?
Consciously or not, my ability to express emotionally was crippled. Historically, I’d been an extremely emotional child, inside and out. Perhaps as an adult, I was the same, but kept my feelings hidden. I had emotional awareness and comfort. But learned how to mask emotion and display a filtered emotional public persona. I was willing to affectively express my feelings, but until attempting to express them in writing, I was unaware of my handicap.
Twenty years hence, my awareness is of two worlds. An external world full of social interactions, judgements by and of others, and basic human needs. This is the world of people wearing masks, hiding feelings, and struggling silently with internal and external burdens. It is a world we need in order to sense the other world – a deep world that is hidden from others and often from our own self-awareness.
The other world is not physical. It has no physical activity. But, it has a silence that we hear, a darkness that we see, and a hearing to which we speak. The other world has no touch, but we feel it. It has no eye, but it sees all. It has no physical strength or power, but it controls our external world in every way. We each have this real world, and it is exclusively ours, separated from the independent and silent world of others.
Real physical life is driven by emotion. While I know nothing of death other than its certainty exceeds all other events, if I must lament any loss – it is losing my emotions. Furthermore, the one I will regret most is same emotion that Edgar Allen Poe held so dear when he said…
“With me poetry has been not a purpose, but a passion; and the passions should be held in reverence: they must not – they can not at will be excited, with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of man-kind.” (1845)
I want passion like that – uncontrolled by logic, analysis, profit, adulation, science, or ego. I want my reason for being and my reason for doing to leap from the shallows of purpose to the depths of passion. Whatever my passions, I want to keep them and to take them with me. I want to feel passionately happy, to be passionate about art and poetry. Maybe I will learn to write passionately about my feelings. Just for now I want to let the world know that I love my passions and lament their loss with life itself. And before I go, I want to write with emotion.