Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dear Emotional, You Have Great Worth

This is going to be a very rough sketch. A little sea of ideas I've been chewing on. Not very prettily or pithily composed... But there.


It's not a very useful thing to be, is it?

Not very high on the productivity chart. Not economically advantageous. Not a quality greatly sought after by employers. Not an attribute particularly coveted by the PTA... or by future spouses (man, I just love the way you sobbed in a puddle on the floor and felt doubtful about everything. That gives me life.... said no one ever.)

I'm emotional. Melancholy. Moody. Overly serious. If I'm smiling on the outside, I promise later on I'm likely to go home and think, "I'm a fraud!" and write poetry. Like a weirdo. My baseline self is just #allthefeels.

Not a day goes by when I don't think a thought somewhere on the range between "Being emotional makes me less awesome" all the way up to "Being emotional makes me such a worthless waste of oxygen."

And, really, I think society would agree with me. I heard a study on the radio that suggested that if we medicated the moods of more people, economic productivity would go up by so and so many billion dollars. The world would like to dispense with #allthefeelings and it would prefer you to make #allthemonies. Which makes sense. I guess.

Unless there is some kind of weird hidden value here that we're missing....
(Do you see where I'm going with this? Walk there with me... just for kicks.)

I just finished reading Vincent van Gogh's letters to his brother Theo. Vincent was emotional. Moving himself forward by feeling... following that illusive impulse that stirs us toward irrational but beautiful things... feeling deeply every passion and every sorrow... empathizing and emoting and doubting and throwing himself headlong past doubt and into the arms of possible (though improbable) hope. He pursued, with as much force as he could summon, the thing that filled his existence with buoyancy: Painting. He hoped against all hope that he could achieve monetary success to justify his love of art. And when he couldn't... when he couldn't prove to the world, to his family, to himself that the thing he so dearly valued had "value"... he couldn't live in that world any more. He couldn't live feeling that every ounce of his passionate life had been thrown after something that proved, at last, to be worthless in the eyes of everyone else.

I found myself asking a question... Would it have been better for Vincent if he had been less emotional?

If he had been more balanced?
Less passionate?
Less moved by fervor and more rooted in practicality?

If he was only less emotional.
If he was only less of everything he was and more... normal...

He might have gotten a job as an art dealer and paid his own way.
He might have married, as he so wished to do.
He might have had children and lived a happy, healthy life.
He might have had better relations with his family.
He might have painted more...
He might have lived...
...But the paintings would have been dull beige arrangements of pottery and clogs.
...And his life would not have echoed, as it does, across history in haloed Starry Nights of manic yellow and deepest blue.

Artists, dreamers, feelers, hopers, creators. Moody moms that curl up in a corner with a notebook and pen random musings... It's harder to see our worth than it is to see the worth of, say, my super practical and productive husband.
But, Dear #AllTheFeels, your life is not without an intentional space in this earth. It's not. We cannot discount and throw away the value that Feelers bring to the story. The depth they add. The gravity they yield. The sense and sensibility that they splash, like a dash of salt, in the soup.

Salty. Yes, we are! A seasoning added to a society that might otherwise atrophy from lack of that heart wrenched spongey FEELING thing that makes us all puddle mushy and ridiculous. And tired! Being emotional will make you tired! You'll throw yourself into your love with everything you have... and rise to high heights... and then plunge to low lows... and everything will be felt and experienced with a purity akin to Tinker Bell who is too tiny to feel more than one complete emotion at once.

Being EMOTIONAL is a hard job... but somebody has to do it.
Somebody has to be "the masala on the situation", to borrow a Pakistani phrase my good friend taught me. 
Somebody has to be that extreme. That dash of purity and passion. That electric shock of Caring Too Much.

When I'm a ball of emotion (a literal ball... on the bed... somewhere under the blankets and that canopy of Mini 3Musketeers wrappers), I want to not look at myself and think, "You are a waste of a life."

I want to feel my feelings and then rise up, look at myself like I look at Vincent, and say, "You add something to this story."

My husband, god bless him wonderful man that he is, can be a little bit vanilla. It's the complexity of flavor that I bring to our relationship that brings balance to our lives together. He could have married a simpler girl... but he chose a spicy one. It cost him something. It's not the most productive option. But I can see, in our marriage, that I bring some beauty along with my chaos.

I want to look at my place in the world like I look at my place in my marriage... I'm the one who throws the masala on the situation. I'm the one who leans in. I'm the one who revitalizes and challenges and inspires. Who agitates and aggravates and calls us toward life, more life.

Dear Emotional, you are the spice of life.

Don't doubt your worth today. Don't give up fighting because you can't point to dollars and cents to justify the worth of this deep part of your being. You were, after all, knit (a very careful, tedious and intentional process) together in your mother's womb by the Lord. It's not by accident that he constructed you complexly. You are fearfully and wonderfully (sometimes more fearfully... but never less wonderfully) made.