Miserable

Today’s weather was miserable. It had strong winds and a dousing rain. It was cloudy, it was muddy, and it was most definitely wet.

And so I was a bit miserable too. It’s a Monday, it’s rainy, and it’s just another reason to stay inside (as if I needed one).

But today was also a reminder that whatever you’re feeling right now about the quarantine, about social distancing, and about the virus, you can and should be feeling it.

You can be sad, disappointed, mad, tired, frustrated, relaxed, grateful, anything!

If you’re feeling it, then it’s a valid feeling.

So, if you are going to take today to be miserable, like me, then have at it!

All feelings are good. And no one should tell you how to feel.

Love,

Bailey

Even a Smile

I pass a lot of the homeless on my way to work. And you’d have to have a heart of stone to not at least feel bad, even if you do just walk by them.

But today, one lady was making it really hard to walk by her. She was rattling a can of change and calling out to people on the street, imploring them, “every little bit helps! Every little bit helps!”

And as I walked by she said it again: “every little bit helps! Even just a smile!”

And that stopped me in my tracks. Because I wish I could tell you that I walked back and gave her some change.

I didn’t. I kept walking. But a smile did creep onto my face, one that only I could see, and as is the case with smiles, it did make me honestly feel better. It was so much preferable to the sour expression I was displaying originally.

And like the woman said, even a smile helps. It helps you, and it helps the people around you.

So go ahead and smile. I can guarantee that you have at least one thing to smile about.

Excited?!?

So, are you excited to get married?

Are you excited to move? 

Are you excited to buy a new mattress? 

Yeah, sure. I’m about as excited as getting a problem tooth pulled. I’ll be happy when it’s done, but there will be a lot of pain in the meantime. 

I mean, why do people ask if you’re excited about huge life changes? (I know. Where did my status as an optimist go?) But don’t they realize how much stuff (aka money, energy, tears, potato chips) goes into making a life change? Because I’m super tempted to tell them the truth. Just in case they really don’t know. 

And I guess it is exciting from the outside. When you’re not involved and you don’t have to stay up late picking napkin colors and wrapping yourself in packing tape. You’re blissfully unaware, and that must be so so nice. 

The point is that the next time you’re going through a life change and someone asks if you’re excited, think about telling them the truth. And then bite it back and tell them that it’s “great!” Because maybe in convincing them, you’ll convince yourself. 

!!!

Is it possible to be too excited? I mean, what would that even look like? Someone jumping up and down? Someone crying tears of joy? Someone clutching their heart and invoking their savior? Doesn’t that simply look like extreme happiness?

Of course, you don’t really see anything extreme in our society. We’re pretty polarizing in our words: we say “awesome,” “insane,” and “horrific” to describe one weekend. But not in our actions. We downplay, diminish, and downsize what we’re really doing. “Oh yeah. I went skydiving this weekend for a bachelor party. We had a great time. Met Heidi Klum on the way back home. It was cool, I guess.”

IT WAS COOL, I GUESS? NO! IF THERE WAS ANY TIME TO USE “AWESOME” IT WOULD PROBABLY BE NOW. 

What is that reaction? Why do we have such a culture of apathy? Why is it cool to be as nonchalant as possible? Is it because we think excitement is dorky? Do we think people will like us better if we don’t reveal our true emotions?

Because I don’t follow that logic. In fact, my favorite people in the world are exploding with passion and excitement. My favorite people in the world are bursting at the seams. They talk for hours about their favorite subjects; their eyes light up when you talk to them; they shiver with excitement when you ask them how their day went.

So, why would we hide that part of ourselves if it feels so good to be excited?

I think somewhere along the way we realized that if we didn’t reveal our emotions, we could prove to other people that we weren’t vulnerable. And that’s somewhat attractive to us. In a world where we are repeatedly faced with the possibility of apocalypse and destruction, it’s simply exhausting to be scared all the time. Actually, it’s tiring to be anything at all. It’s easier to become desensitized when we all have to be Chicken Little everyday. So, we drained ourselves and then we replaced all of our feelings with emojis because they were easily digestible. Then we started to type “LOL” when we’re not even laughing. So, to express an emotion that we actually feel is incredibly rare.

But my advice is to feel as much as possible, especially excitement. I can understand why people are afraid to be vulnerable and I can understand why it is easy to gloss over emotions, but I can’t understand why people would choose to live a quieter life because of it.

You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry

Tonight, we’re going to talk about our feelings.

No, seriously.

You can work to swallow them, hide them, or even pretend that they don’t exist. But feelings are a part of us, and without them, we’d all be Cybermen.

(Personally, I like to sing to in the car to expel my emotions. Performing a concert live where no one can hear me sing the wrong words and notes makes me feel like Beyonce, and we all know that no one can hurt the queen’s feelings.)

It was during one of these solos inside of my car that I realized something about one specific emotion: anger. Anger is unlike any other feeling because it is so fleeting. It transforms too quickly to envy, fear, sadness, or even apathy. We don’t really experience anger all that often, at least not in its purest form.

But when we do experience anger, and here’s where my revelation comes in, we are not angry in the way that we have made ourselves believe. Have you ever realized that when you are angry at someone or something it’s because they didn’t do what you expected them to do instead of being angry at them for what they did? Isn’t anger then simply surprise and confusion?

Think about it. When you were younger and you did something wrong, oh say, stuff a lot of tissues in the porcelain throne to see what would happen (like I did), you can probably remember that your parents were pretty angry. Or at least, you could probably guess that they would be very angry if you did such a thing. Why? Because you did permanent damage to the toilet? Maybe. But they could buy another one. Because you purposefully tried to break something? I guess, but you were just a kid.

No, it was because you weren’t acting as your parents were expecting you to act. I don’t know why, but most parents simply assume that their children will wear halos and do what they are told. And everything we know, from fairy tales to television shows, tells us that this is not true. So, kid goofs off, parents get angry, kid gets punished, kid promises never to do it again (with variable results).

Think of another situation. What about when you forget to buy something for your anniversary with your partner? Why does he or she get angry, you ask? Not because they really wanted a present, and not even because this is probably the fifth time you forgot. (Although, yes, it is probably the fifth time you forgot and that sucks for the other person.)  But the reason they are probably angry is because you are not acting as they’d expect you to act. 

Consider one more scenario. You have a best friend. You develop feelings for him or her. Then, when you build up the nerve to tell this person, he or she tells you that they are not interested, but they would like to stay friends. You, in turn, are angry. So, you declare yourself eternally in the “friend zone” (which does not exist) and proceed with whatever course of action that scorned lovers take. But really, you guessed it, you are only angry with your best friend because he or she did not act as you expected. This causes feelings of mistrust and hurt, and that’s understandable. But it isn’t your best friend’s fault for being honest with you.

Essentially, you need to evaluate the situation the next time that you find yourself angry at someone or something. Most often, you will find that you are angry because things didn’t go the way that you were expecting them to. And if you are going to be angry about that, then you are going to be angry for the rest of your life.

I Never Watch the End of Moulin Rouge

because it’s sad.

The End.

No, seriously.  I watch the epic singing number, Nicole Kidman regal in her silver headdress and Ewan McGregor, in all of his misguided writerly passion. Then they twirl in rose petals or something and sing, “The only thing you’ll ever learn is how to love and be loved in return.” And then they kiss, and the evil redhead with a bad lisp is conquered, and some absinthe is had by all.

That’s the ending that I see.

What really happens is (and spoiler alerts abound here, but the movie has been out for years, so shame on you) Kidman breathes her last breath by coughing up blood from a crippling bout of consumption, and McGregor cries over her body in probably the most anguished way I have ever seen. His grief is almost repulsive, almost provocative. And then he dies, shriveled around his typewriter, a loveless man.

Okay, I made up the last part. But honestly I’m surprised I can even still remember the ending because I refuse to watch it. And believe me, there are plenty of other movies that I do this with, that I don’t remember the beginning/middle/end because I refuse to watch them. I keep myself in a sweet cinematic oblivion.

But what a difference it makes when I just cut off that last part in Moulin Rouge. Then, I live in a rose-colored world where clouds are made of cotton candy. And what a nightmare it is when I watch that last part. There’s suddenly a dark cloud over my entire life, and it’s made of black licorice (yuck!). Really, it is like some awful “choose your own adventure” story. On one hand, you have the perfect fairy tale. On the other, you have a Grimm’s fairy tale. And there’s NO in-between.

And while I could make this post entirely about one half of humanity, (me) who stops it before it gets ugly, and the other half of humanity, (not me) who pushes on and completes the entire film, it’s not really about that. Or, it’s not as cut and dry.

I think the real issue is that technology, on a greater scale, is going to continually give us the tools to numb ourselves, and we are going to keep asking for them. Excuse me if I simply regurgitate the entire plot of Click, but aren’t we all going to get to the point where we just fast forward through all of the sad parts? Actually, that’s where we are now. I am doing that now. Maybe not in my actual life, but in media. And we are getting to the point where the line is blurring between the two.

So, what I am taking issue with is not our ability to create. To make technology work for us. To direct, shoot, and produce sad films that I will inevitably have to fast forward through. It’s that we have such a problem with emotions in our culture. And we’re using technology as a huge bandage on this festering problem. Because about every song I hear is some woman trying to act tough by telling her ex-lover that he’ll “never see her cry.” And don’t get me started on men and crying. (And really, most men could use a good cry.)

So, why don’t we? Why aren’t we allowed to cry? Who decided that it was weak to cry? We seriously have some sick obsession with denying ourselves the catharsis of tears. Pills, food, and yes, even the fast forward button, all keep us safe from that dark, spiraling staircase we’re all afraid to go down inside of ourselves.

But of course, like all things, it starts with you. You have to give your permission to feel before what I tell you will sink in. (I would prefer if I wasn’t the one who made you cry, either.)

But if you don’t let your emotions out to play once in awhile, I promise you that they will come tearing out of you. And it will take all of your strength to put the cork on when it’s over.

So, once in awhile, watch Moulin Rouge to the end. Cry. Feel. Know that not everything gets tied up nicely at the end. And other times, turn it off. Live in a world where things are sweet and poetically justified.

Just don’t torture yourself. Well, maybe just a little bit. To remind yourself what pain feels like. And then shut it off again. Or fast forward. Whatever you prefer. Just remember to feel once in awhile.

Just remember to cry.