“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou
At the core of our civilization is the expression of human emotion.
I read Shakespeare’s sonnets often, watch “Chick-Flicks” without telling anyone and listen to catchy love songs that I can’t get out of my head no matter how hard I try.
Sometimes, I regard my feelings with distrust, disdain and fear especially given my macho upbringing and surroundings.
However, all my memories, points of interest and most important lessons in life seem to be intertwined with moments of intense feelings.
I remember a run under the rain and immediately feelings of freedom, lightness and that “close-to-nature-bliss” come up for me.
That morning, I gazed out my window and noticed the way that rain drops onto the grass. I could see all this as if it was in slow motion, the drops growing in size and dropping gently, almost asking for permission to land.
I put on my running gear, and hurried outside so as not to miss the rain. I stood under the covered arch in front of our house and felt the chill of the wind moving across my face and neck.
Even now, when I think back to that day, I can feel the chill on my face and the excitement that only “15 degrees centigrade” kind of weather can give me.
I adjust my earphones and cap and I’m off, smiling away the first few kilometers. I feel the rain drizzling against my body, and try to sidestep the puddles that have formed on the ground.
I run and run, as if it’s the last day of my life. Finally, the pain of it catches up with me and wipes the smile away. Still, the sense of joy within remains.
The streets are completely empty now. I am immersed in a sense of liberation and freedom. It’s as if I was the only one on this planet—like a scene from the movie “Mad Max.”
I feel that inner peace and power that you feel only when your soul has made contact with you.
That feeling of running under the rain was so transfixing to me that now I wait eagerly for the clouds to roll in, thrilled for the opportunity to experience it again.
I sit down in the theater with five hundred other parents, feeling totally alone in the dark and the quiet, with the formality of the setting slowly sinking in.
It’s May. Graduation day—a day of laughter and excitement for the kids, and an intense mix of feelings for the rest of us.
I watch him walk down the aisle with 50 other students and start to choke up without warning.
I look around—a few people are watching me—so I hold myself together and watch speech after speech.I feel like I’m in a daze.
One of the teachers gives a great, memorable speech, talking directly from his heart.
“Where did this guy come from?” I wonder. What he’s saying is so powerful. Crap. I’m going to cry.
Next, my son wins an award for achievement, and I’m convinced this is definitely a conspiracy to make me cry.
Soon after, the ceremony ends and the graduates throw their graduation caps into the air. We all applaud. People are crying all around me.
We take pictures, and say our hellos and goodbyes, then drive off to the hotel where we are holding a shared reception with some of my son’s friends.
The first thing I do is down a double vodka to calm me down—as if that ever works.
The evening goes well, and then the speeches come.
I can’t remember the exact words my son used, but I will never forget the feelings I felt as I watched him in front of the crowd, so grown-up and confident. As I hug him in front of all those people, my knees go weak, and suddenly the earth moves beneath me, as if time stopped and still.
That hug brought back memories mixed with the many emotions built up throughout the evening (perhaps,enhanced by a few more double vodkas).
All in all, my heart was deeply touched with a feeling that I will never be able to explain.
That hug was not just a hug. It encompassed years and years of fears, love, doubts, insecurities, heartache, hope, joy, respect, and admiration.
That hug was speaking a universal language understood by all. It was speaking directly to all the hearts in the room—it was a silent conversation.
“I’m leaving you,” he was saying to me.
“I’m losing my best friend,” I replied.
“But you need to let me go. I need to start my own life, my own adventure.”
“I know. I understand.”
Kahlil Gibran writes:
“Your children are not your children.They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”
As we slowly let each other go, I noticed tears in his eyes. Then the floodgates open, and I cried like I’ve never cried before.
Once, I had a conversation with a woman on a flight to London. I can’t remember her face exactly, or her name, but I can see her glittering turquoise blue eyes and her white soft skin (though I can’t remember the color of her hair).
She was a bit older than me but I was drawn to her composure and the way the words came out of her mouth in short, powerful and meaningful phrases.
She said something to the effect that life is an adventure, one that is unique and particular to every single one of us.
She didn’t say anything new but the way she said it resonated with me and left me mesmerized.
She made me feel special, sexy and intelligent. Most of all, she made me feel powerful and like anything was possible, even at my ripe old age of forty five.
I felt as if I was an anointed king going to reclaim his country. I felt that I still have many chapters to fill in the story of my life.
Our lives are defined by the moments we experience and the intensity of our feelings.
How did we feel at that moment? Where were we when we felt that way? Why did we feel like that? Who made us feel them?
We feel good when we are happy, joyful, excited, alive, compassionate, peaceful and full of love.
We feel bad when we are sad, hurt, tired, irritated, confused, afraid, angry and hateful.
The inner labels that we give to people, places and events don’t actually refer to those things, but rather, how we feel about them.
If Rome was the place I had my heart broken, then it will be etched in my heart that way, and most likely the only feeling I will get when I hear or see anything about Rome are the echoes of my pain, sadness and fear.
When I run, I feel joy, freedom and inner peace. Running becomes a symbol for those feelings. I associate running with that particular day I was running under the rain and feeling the bliss of nature.
The feelings that arose from “that hug” contained both love and fear, and the mix was so powerful that I only remember how I felt whenever the image of that moment comes to mind. Not what anyone wore, not the speeches, or any of the details we had obsessed about preparing the reception for months in advance.
We live life for our feelings.
Our bodies are the vessels that carry and experience those feelings.
Our minds try to understand and decipher the feelings.
Our Spirits speak to us only through our feelings.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Catherine Monkman