5 min read
JAZZ IS GREEN
AND HUGS ARE BABY BLUE.
AND DON'T CUCUMBERS SMELL CRUNCHY?
Ever wonder why we describe feelings as being colorful?
For example, picture an ex of yours walking away. I bet it’s raining — with grey and purple hues everywhere — right? Now think back to your first living memory. Go all the way back to the first thing you can recall (I’ll wait).
What color was that shape/sound/feeling/thing? Fast forward to today. That’s one of your favorite colors now too, no?
The human brain is profound. It dances before there's music. It can smell forward and backward in time. People named Wojciechowski can spell their names IN F&*KING KINDERGARTEN. Plus, Elon Musk exists.
You get the picture.
Now get this: you’re statistically much more likely to remember if I say I have a friend Dom who’s a baker than if I said I have a friend named Dom Baker. That’s because Dom the baker smells like bread and has flour on his hands (with a bit of stubble and a funny hat on — right?). So, we feel the baker.
Meanwhile, Dom Baker is just some schmuck. It’s a phonetic sound, at best.
So, we forget the Baker.
We’re rapidly learning just how weird our brains are, but at this point, we know enough to harness a few of its quirks more efficiently.
Here’s one. Being tired and being attentive are often virtually-indistinguishable cousins from one another (and it explains why falling asleep is only effortless when we try not to).
When things demand attention, we shut off and feel drained. But when our attention demands things, they pull us forward and make us energized. Start finding things that not only pull you forward but works like a catapult of sorts once attained.
For me, some of those are tea, nuts, eggs, hugs, jazz and thunderstorms. Also, being awake before anyone else makes me feel like it's my party and they showed up late, instead of the other way around.
And let's not forget the most effective of them all: empathy (not to be confused with sympathy, which is usually a waste of time).
But beware of false flags. Nothing is worse than thinking you’re helping yourself when you’re not. It makes you feel like you walked 500 miles just to fall and latch the door.
( ♬ Dadda-dah-dah! dadda-dah-dah! ♬ )
So, yeah; avoid scams. As a rule of thumb, if it feels scammy then assume it’s a scam. If you have to talk yourself into feeling differently about a person, place, idea or thing, then boom that’s another scam.
Some further examples of surprise gut-punchers include red meat, Red Bull, Red Dog, Marlboro Reds, or Blue Lives Matter.
Rule of thumb: colorful emotions are healthy and one-dimensional (unicolor) feeling means scam. That, right there, is my thesis: the more enjoyable your life, the more colorful emotions you feel. The less, the more single-colored your world.
Explains why recently revived white supremacists are such miserable human beings. They seem addicted to their rage, don’t they? Perhaps their torches are better seen as burning signs of emotional immaturity.
And nothing is more dangerous than a flamingly aggressive beacon of emotional idiocracy .
A good day isn’t one spent smiling in the mirror for seventeen straight hours. You have to laugh, cry, cheer, scream, yearn, attain, jump and fall; it's when you scrape your knee and drop the ring, but she says yes anyway; it's when you think you’re getting fired but it turns out it was a promotion; it's when I read texts that confirm she’s as out of my league as she is clueless about the fact.
The brain is to your central nervous system as your heart is to your veins; connected, but sometimes they fight one another. When they fight, we call it "high blood pressure” or “anxiety,” depending on which type of specialist you saw.
But it's why your gut doesn’t always agree with your other two decision-makers.
(Whichever other two things you thought I was referring to: yes)
It’s why your heart and hands don’t often reach the same direction. Instead, they're
yin and yang, protons and electrons, cats and dogs. You need one to have the other, but it’s tempting to pick a favorite.
Now, I realize caring about these emotional truths is way up on Maslow’s hierarchy, and I also understand they assume you benefit from normal biology. If you don’t, skip this — nothing teaches value quite like losing something, so you already know the value of healthy biology better’n anyone.
THERE ARE TWO WAYS OF DEALING WITH FEELINGS.
The first way is the wrong way. We’ll call it the ‘manly’ way. It requires you channel any unfamiliar feeling into anger or ego, then express it directly as such.
Put another way, it’s why grandpa gets shit-your-pants mad if you call him out for being racist. Emotions never (okay, rarely) lie.
The second way is the right way. We’ll call it the ‘meh, sure’ way. This requires you feel whatever is in front of you, in its rawest form, right there in the moment.
I know. It's a lot to ask. And that'd require an unusual level of comfort around honesty. But discomfort is the door that opens to comfort.
Instead of playing whack-a-mole with your emotions, try playing the bongos. Anger makes terrible music anyway (sorry, 90s white guy nasal rock bands).
Plants (universal symbols of emotions, by the way) need the right environment to flower and the right weather to bear fruit.
So do you.
I bet you can find something you like about anything you don’t. That’s the first step, because more often than not when you fold the first shirt out of the dryer, the next 20 immediately follow.
If you wish to change something that currently sucks, try leaning in with open ears before running away angry. And while you’re at it, when something feels awesome don’t pretend it lasts forever — and DO NOT try to hang on.
Always smart to replace pleasures that might kill you with ones which cannot. That means once you get where you're going, take the damn off-ramp and have a nap.
There’s no way to avoid emotion(s), only to avoid discussing the topic (or to pretend you don’t feel any). Dealing with a disturbance represents a choice — will you cater to your best instincts or your loudest ones? — so I’m writing this today to appeal to your better, wiser side.
Don’t fall into the trap of happiness. Happiness is a diamond you can’t afford. A kingdom no man or woman rules.
Instead of shooting threes, just try (for now) and get some layups to fall. Try and get on the board in every statistical (emotional) category more often. Don't aim to be the angriest, toughest, loudest or meanest; try to be the most well-rounded.
Seek out a diversity of feelings and experiences. Do stuff merely because it’s unfamiliar; no, especially because it’s unfamiliar.
Most importantly: whatever you are, be a lot of it.
Sad? Cry harder. Mischievous? Giggle-sprint faster.
Lean into nerves but out of anxiety, then release from the rope swing at the top of the jump.
(Then block your jewels for the whiplash)
Water always feels cold at first (for sake of argument, pretend there are no hot tubs).
But most of the time, you’re only getting used to it. Eventually, the water will feel amazing against your skin. Especially in this weather.
The colorful randomness and musical beauty of our lives are there for the noticing if we care to look. It’s the heartbeat underneath all the symmetry you seek out and divinity for which you hope.
Birds sing. Wind howls. Humans talk. Dogs love. Writers write.