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My relationship with my own emotions is something that has always been… problematic. Growing up, I was taught that emotional thinking was something to be avoided. Heavily influenced by rationalism, those around me touted logic and reason above all else. A good example is that my parents would often claim that it was not worth listening to the words of an angry person – because anger created an irrational state of mind and nothing one could say in such a state was of value. And, in response to hearing this belief all around me, I constantly shut down and shut out my emotions. After all, if they only clouded my mind, if they weren’t of use to me, what was the point? And, this attitude seemed logical, but it felt wrong. Were emotions really completely valueless?

Well, starting about high school, emotions (including mine) are something I’ve thought a lot about – a lot. Emotions are something I’ve discussed with countless friends (and now several therapists as well). And, by the end of high school, I had come to the conclusion that all emotions must have a purpose, otherwise we wouldn’t have them. For example, sadness can help us work through change and loss and helps us appreciate happiness all the more. While attending college for Anthropology, I doubled down on this opinion. I learned that emotions help social species – including humans – to develop and maintain healthy bonds between individuals and among communities. Since social species depend on cooperation to survive, emotions are important to survival. By college graduation, I felt I had a better grasp on the role and importance of emotions. And, I was trying to be more aware of my own – something I struggled with. But, I still didn’t have a good relationship with my own emotions.

Within the last year, I have continued to make progress in the emotion department. I have realized that, despite acknowledging the importance of emotions, I was still relying far too heavily on logic. Sure, I believed emotions had value. Yes, I was trying to be more aware of my own emotions. But, at the end of the day, I was still approaching emotions as inaccurate snapshots of life, something to be “dealt with” and “swept away” in order to protect the all-important purity of rational thought. So, I wasn’t actually listening to my emotions. And, truth be told, I wasn’t happy. How was I supposed to be, though, if I constantly neglected my own feelings? Since this realization, I have been working very hard to include emotion in my life more – to use logic and emotion together in decision making. This has improved my mental health significantly. But, there was always one emotion I struggled with the most – anger.

I could never understand anger. I’ve never liked it and I’ve always had a lot of it. In my experience, it just seemed to be something that sat in your stomach, weighed you down, drove you to lash out, and exhausted you. I know some people – like political activists – say it can be a great motivator, but I’ve never believed that. Sure, anger can motivate things like the BLM movement and #MeToo movement, but it can also motivate hate crimes. And, many anger-driven people complain that it’s hard to maintain motivation long-term without exhausting yourself. So, I don’t agree that it’s an appropriate motivator. But, then what could it be?

Well, a few days ago, I was reading a social media post about dispelling anger and something about it nagged at me. It was a short post, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Then, it finally, finally hit me; anger isn’t supposed to be carried around. Anger is supposed to be dispelled. The reason anger felt so useless to me is I wasn’t using it right. So, I started thinking, what could a short-term use for anger be? And, I think I finally have an answer. Anger is like fear – a warning signal that something is wrong. But, unlike with fear, anger isn’t our response to immediately life-threatening situations. Instead, it is our response to emotionally threatening situations. Think about it. When you get angry – with yourself or others – its usually because you know that whatever the person is doing is emotionally, and socially, damaging. Anger is our response to situations that could threaten our ability to maintain relationships with those we depend on for cooperation and survival. It’s only a warning – meant to be acknowledged and then moved on from. Once the problem is identified, it’s the role of other emotions and even logic to help you find a solution. The job of anger is done.

So, now I understand that the reason I so often got stuck in anger was because I refused to put my anger down in the first place. I’ve held on to my anger, tried to use it to motivate me, tried to understand it… This only made me more angry, though, because I was creating an unhealthy emotional environment for myself by holding onto it in the first place. So, I think I’m ready. I think I can finally put my anger down and accept all my emotions.

I know this piece isn’t along the lines of what I typically write, and it’s long. And, it might be confusing. I’m sorry if that disappoints you. But, something made me really want to share this. Maybe it’s because I know I can’t be alone in this struggle. Maybe it’s a way of cementing this new change in myself. I really don’t know right now. But, I decided to share it here because so many weirdos helped me gain this piece of wisdom – especially myself.

Not Love

Obsession is an endless pit
Disguised, your mind it twists.
“I’m all that matters,” it lies
“You think you’re worthy?” it pries.
But, pull the mask off its face.
With compassion, put it in its place.
With loving kindness shout.
“I’m not a puppet to be turned about.”
Feel the emotions that arise
Care for them all and you will rise.
On wings of joy and empathy.
Into self-love and reality.

(written in response to Frank Solanki’s “Love in an Endless Pit”: https://franksolanki.com/2021/08/01/love-is-an-endless-pit/)

Weirdos are Wonderful: One

“What goes around, comes around.” A simple phrase that embodies a simple concept – that what you put out into the world, you get back. There are many words and phrases to describe this idea: karma, self-fulfilling prophecy, reaping what you sow, the three-fold rule, and even “the secret.” This concept has even wormed its way into our sciences in the form of Newton’s Third Law of Motion: for every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction. It is an idea found throughout history and across the world. No one person, town, culture, ethnicity, race, country, continent, or hemisphere has claim to it. 

But, something that is often overlooked is the reason that this concept is true, which is that everything is connected. Look around you. Everything you see, touch, smell, hear, and even consume connects you to something else. The air you breathe was once dispelled by the plants and trees. The water you drink was once dripped from cavern walls. The food you eat came from other living things. The atoms that make up the neurons firing in your brain right this instant were not always yours. Even your body itself – dependent on the plentiful good bacteria within and upon it – could not exist without the assistance of other beings. Life begets death. Death fuels life. Your life, this brief moment, this short breath, is merely borrowed. 

You are not a separate entity – you are only a small piece in a puzzle larger than you could even imagine. But, your piece is connected, through all its windy, unpredictable edges, to the larger picture; and, no puzzle is complete without all the pieces. Which brings me to why this matters today: when you do damage to the pieces around you, you disrupt the picture and your place in it. When you damage another, you do damage to yourself. When you allow another to suffer, you allow yourself to suffer. When you take advantage of a system that lifts you up by tearing others down, you allow that system to perpetuate – whether you intend this or not. When you continue a history of hurt and hate based on the foolish notion that others are inferior and/or irrelevant to you because their skin is a different color than yours, you invite hurt and hate into your own life. 

I know that barriers to changing “the way the world is” may seem insurmountable. I know how easy it is to feel powerless in the face of centuries of history. I know how difficult it is to believe in a reality, a story, different from the only one you have known your entire life. I know the unknown is frighteningly uncertain. But, the world has changed before. Empires that thought they would last forever fell. Cultures that thought they would be lost to the ages have survived, been remembered, or been rediscovered. Revolutions have destroyed tyrannies and created new opportunities. Influential people pass away. New leaders are born. The world changes every single day, so fighting for what is right always matters. 

But, especially now, you can make a difference. Especially now, you will not be fighting alone. Even if you cannot or will not participate in the protests, you can still help. Even if you cannot donate to organizations or bail funds, you can still help. Create signs (for protests). Vote for better leaders, nationally and locally. Educate yourself – on history, on systems of oppression, on culture, on law, etc. Paint a mural that can be seen from space. There are endless ways that you can help. And, Google can provide you with plentiful ideas if you run out. Just join the fight – if not for others, then for yourself. For, what goes around, comes around. Black Lives Matter!

Image from: https://www.yenisafak.com/en/world/new-york-city-to-rename-streets-to-honor-black-lives-matter-3531607 (Originally Maxar Technologies)

Inspiration for this post comes from: my many teachers (both officially employed as such and not), my many philosophically inclined friends, Carolyn Elliot, Veronica Varlow, more Sufi poets than I can even remember the names of, and so many more. Thank you all! Special thanks to Emilie Autumn (musician, artist, writer… renaissance lady), who reminded me of this truth and inspired me to write this with your recent instagram posts. I am committed. For this, and a million other things, thank you!

Hello. “Weirdos are Wonderful” is, admittedly, an idea that simply popped into my head today. I hope, in time, to make this a series of posts sharing various wisdom that I have learned from, well, the “weirdos” in my life. But, I have a habit of letting things like this slip me by. So, we’ll see. 

Firstly, I would like to address the word “weird.” In my opinion, it simply means outside the norm. It is not inherently positive or negative, although I usually mean it as a compliment. In fact, I think we are all weirdos in our own way (though many hide it). I do not use the word to be insulting. I apologize ahead of time if anyone is offended. 

Secondly, I would like to share why I chose to focus on what I have learned from weirdos in my life specifically. I am not trying to say that more “normal” people do not have wisdom to share. Simply, I have found that the advice of weirdos has usually helped me more than the advice of more “normal” people for the simple reason that weirdos frequently have a very different perspective. They are able to break people out of a current, problematic mindset because they have a mindset that is complimentary but different. 

So, to all the weirdos out there, making the world a better, more diverse place: Thank you! 

(The Point of) Life

People say the point of life is to shoot for the moon. 

And, as far as I can tell, this does seem to be true. 

But, I know there is something that “people” have forgotten:  

A needed tip, advice, for weaker hearts with “problems.” 

Some may find it easy to keep the moon in sight, 

Even as they plan the plans needed for the flight. 

Even as they find a mathematician, an engineer, and more. 

Even as they get in fabulous shape, and stay mentally stable, for sure. 

Even as they learn to pilot, in case the worst should come. 

Even through all this effort over a time that feels so long. 

But, those like me, we stumble. The waiting bogs us down. 

All the loose ends tie us up until we cannot tell up from down. 

And, in this anxious, frenzied state, we are likely to be blind. 

To dive into a rippling lake, in a vain attempt, to find…

That our moon was a mirage, a reflection on the waves. 

And, we wind up even farther from the dreams we crave. 

To shoot for the moon, you need more than dreams, 

More than blind ambitions, more than goals to achieve. 

You need the perseverance to stay determined, strong. 

You need to enjoy every step of the journey you are on. 

For, if you let the devil in the details have your ear, 

You will be frozen in place by your own folly and fear. 

So, do not regret the moments you are not yet on the moon. 

Wake up grateful every morning for the opportunity, and soon…

You will get there, inch by inch, and at just the right time. 

For the point may be the view at the top, but, life is in the climb.

Doesn’t Come from a Store

The holidays should be about joy, 

Friends, and family, not gifts and toys. 

So, please remember, as you enjoy,

Not to believe tricks ads employ. 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean “we can still be friends.” 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean “it’s okay if it happens again.” 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean “I trust you now.” 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean “I will forget about.” 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean “it wasn’t a mistake.” 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean “the hurt does not remain.” 

Forgiveness only means “I have accepted the event.” 

Forgiveness is about moving on, from them. 

Enough?

I stand before the cracked and ancient wood. The door, swollen from the humidity, creaks against its frame. The knob sits cold and rusty, rarely touched. My eyes bore holes into it. I keep waiting for it to simply melt away under the heat of my gaze. Afraid it might, I glance around me. The familiar walls of the surrounding room are covered with a gentle blue sheen. They are comforting, but suffocating. They provide protection, but at the cost of freedom and companionship. I used to believe the price was worth it. All the shades are drawn, hiding the world I thought was out of reach. I look back to the door. On the other side, there will be fear, and sadness. But, on the other side, there is the world. There is a rich and textured life full of adventures, and love. On the other side, is joy. Do I have courage enough to open it?

Historical Daisy

Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do.

I’m not crazy, nor am I in love with you.

But, I only propose a marriage, ‘cause, unless you have a miscarriage,

Since your honor’s destroyed, and you can’t be employed, 

Then, otherwise, you’d be screwed.

Henry, Henry, here is my answer, true.

I’m not crazy. So, while I’m not in love with you,

I’ll still accept the marriage, while praying for a miscarriage,

‘Cause father’s got a small purse, and you could be worse.

And, this way, we BOTH will be screwed. 

Everywhere He Is In Chains

When the lord, up on high,

Tethered me to this place, dry, 

Without a drop to drink,

All that I could ever do,

Without the aid I need, ’tis true,

Is to sit and think. 

And, with nothing but to ponder, 

I have slowly come to wonder,

What is the point of this? 

This exercise in futility,

This absence of ability, 

That seems to have no end?

Am I but a simple display,

To warn others who go astray,

To turn back to the path? 

Or, am I entertainment,

To those in better arrangements,

Who wish to laugh at pain? 

Or is it even worse yet?

Am I some unknown monster’s pet,

To be caged and kept apart? 

Or is even that too good for me?

Am I exactly what I seem,

Without any purpose? 

And, does it matter in the end,

If you are absent, foe, or friend?

Would it change my circumstance?

And, as misery clouds my mind, 

I try to leave these thoughts behind, 

But, they are all I have. 

For, here I must remain, 

Whether it brings pleasure or pain, 

Or I yearn to be free.

So, I question and escape in dreams, 

Because, in this world of pointless things, 

At least it passes time…