“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.”
― Mark Twain
I wonder when exactly in the process of growing up we learn to stifle our feelings so that they are not so easily read. I wonder when we learn to be ashamed of the act of feeling, when we are taught to hide our tears, to tone down our laughter. To apologize for the things that make us human and alive.
We grow and learn and experience a little of the world and we become tragically cynical. We understand what it is to be an adult when we power through and pretend that it is just another ordinary day, that we are unfazed by the experience of living.
Watching an almost-2-year-old take on the world has made me rediscover just how awe-inspiring raw feeling is. In those moments that I observe her feelings of pure and unabated joy, I am reminded of just how amazing the world can be. I myself am overtaken by that joy and am so grateful of her expression of it.
And then, in those moments when she is inconsolable and I have exhausted any method of quelling her cries, I sit back and I let her simply feel.
I almost envy the total abandon with which she expresses her emotion, and I lament the day that she becomes embarrassed for simply letting herself experience sorrow. Someday, I am sure she will try to wipe away the smudges of tear-stained makeup in a bathroom stall, just like we all do.
Because for some reason, we are ashamed of evidence that we have felt something.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be allowed to FEEL our emotion, to really LIVE without being afraid of judgment or rebuke? That is a life I strive for, one where I feel unashamed to BE, unashamed to feel and express the type of joy my daughter has given me or the grief of heavy burden.
I’ve been told I don’t have a great poker face, but I take that as a compliment. To me, it means I have clung to that little glimmer of shamelessness we are all born with, and I hope to carry it to the grave.
Let us all stop apologizing for feeling. Let us all stop apologizing for being human.
I think the easiest place to start is to be unapologetic in the feeing of joy. The world really can be a happy, amazing, joyful place if we let it, if we help it, if we encourage it, if we choose to make it so. Those who hold this truth close and who share it with others are the ones who never truly grow old.
So I implore you: find joy. Feel it. Embrace it. Express it. Share it.- in all of its glory. Maybe in doing so, you will have made the world just a tiny bit brighter for having been alive.
And how could anyone be ashamed of that?