We have them, all right, but we don’t talk about our emotions very much. We don’t talk about being angry, or being sad, or being so glad that our hearts swell up and we’re in kind of an exalted state of happiness for a little while. Or being so proud of someone, or something (far be it from being ourselves!) that we feel we could burst. Or of being lonely, or of being trapped in a frenzy of the social whirl. Or of being scared, frightened to death of the future, or the present. Often, for me, it’s being overwhelmed by recriminations from the past. No, mostly we just get on with it, like stoical individuals, inert cogs pretending to have no vulnerabilities, in a social machine.
If we do talk about these things, we might tend to put them into a pigeon-hole of ‘mental health’, as if ‘normal’, mentally well-balanced human beings don’t have feelings that can be discussed. I’m thinking about these things, actually, on the occasion of deep emotions running through our family, and wondering how on earth to express the inexpressible, in a diary that’s supposed to be able to encompass life in these valleys, throughout this year. If the whole diary gets finished and we haven’t chatted about emotions, then how much of a barren, utilitarian, intellectual desert would that be, I wonder? It’s been quite the hardest thing, actually, to elicit contributions for the diary that actually deal with feelings, as compared with descriptions, logistics, organisational matters, times, days/dates, activities . . . anything but feelings, heaven forfend!
Still, even speaking personally, it’s very hard to put your finger on these things. I feel a little frisson of relief, if not pride (that only comes rarely, for a really good piece) when I put an entry to bed for the diary. There, I think to myself, that’s done. Great! The promise of anticipated relief is a great motivator, I guess.
I hadn’t even realised that there was such a thing as a ‘relief’ emoji! Speaking of emojis, this new language of emotion is an intriguing one, something that in decades past was only available to us via music, or art or dance, but in today’s setting, emojis are a lingua franca by which we can express ourselves better. Though I still cringe when I receive emails with a row of emojis stacked up like so many redundant exclamation marks! But perhaps the next generation will be that much more emotionally literate than ours, thanks to the new language spawned by the internet.
But where do we get to experience shared emotions? At places like football games, in great moments of excitement or despair, for example, we share similar feelings.
I remember a dynamic exhibition of photographs along the walls of the RVI, one year, depicting these opposing emotions at a Newcastle United football match, and how moving that presentation was, so I’ve asked google to provide me with similar images. These are great set pieces, within the safety of crowds, somehow, and similarly during great theatre, we can experience shared emotions together, with no fear of recrimination. We talk about our ‘suspension of disbelief’ during a play; I wonder if we might also consider a kind of ’emotional de-repression’ when engaged in a moving theatrical, or operatic experience.
But when, if ever, do we share such feelings locally, in a smaller, more intimate setting? At weddings and funerals, of course, those rare moments in family life, which, as we say, bring us together. Sometimes, it’s clear as the lights come up, after a particularly moving film presentation at Allendale Village Hall (about which, more in another entry), that we appreciate that we’ve shared similar emotions, and that makes us smile, slightly abashed, red-eyed, and yet not really embarrassed, after all.
Highly emotive church services are appealing too, to some, while to others such displays are toe-curlingly embarrassing. Or the annual pantomime, that’s got to be a great opportunity for some mutual release of emotional energy, coming out in great bursts of laughter at ourselves, or commiseration with our neighbours, or with the dim hero/ine who can’t quite manage to achieve their goal, or to vanquish the wicked witch, without the help of the audience. But, more likely, the more direct indicators of emotion come from the proud parents in the audience, revelling in delight at their children’s performance, and why not, eh!
So, as might be obvious, this is pretty much of an open-ended piece, really, wondering what readers might think of the new language of emotions, or of how we share our emotional lives, how that language or sharing, or lack thereof, actually reflects life in this parish during this year.