Wednesday, November 9, 2016

a Prison of Glass

Often, when people ask me how I’m doing, I’m not really sure how to answer this.

That sentence probably sounds really heavy. Is Aaron depressed? you’re wondering. Is he facing some tragedy I don’t know about?

Not at all, actually. I’m feeling rather content about things these days, more or less.

But for some reason, I’ve noticed that sometimes I feel ashamed to admit that I’m in a good mood.

…yes, that sounds as weird for me to write as it probably sounds for you to read.

It's true, though. Sometimes when I’m at work texting Emily, she’ll ask how I’m doing. Sometimes I want to tell her that I’m happy or in a good mood or that my shift is going well, or any number of things along these lines.

Instead, though, I usually settle on telling her that I’m “fine” or “okay.” Or, worse yet, I try to think of a negative spin to put on it: “I’m okay. Tired, though.” “Meh. I’m alright. Work is pretty busy.”

It’s not that these things aren’t true. I’m tired a lot. And if I tell her that work is busy, this is because work is busy.

If my dominant mood is happy or content, though, why don’t I just say this? Why won’t I let myself simply tell her – or other people – that I’m in a good mood?

I freely admit: it’s a very curious thing. Why should I feel ashamed of saying something positive?

Thinking about this reminds me of something I wrote years ago. I’ll re-explain it here:

One night I had a terrible dream. When I woke up in the morning, I was in a rather foul mood. This happens to all of us, I think. I kept dwelling on the events and the negativity of the dream all morning, and it kept me in that funk.

Later that afternoon, I started feeling better/happier. As soon as I “caught” myself feeling better, though, I literally remember “reminding” myself that I was having a bad day.

For a minute there, I let myself sink again. I soon became conscious of this fact, too, and asked myself, Why am I preventing myself from being happy?

Why do I sometimes seek out different moods that I imagine I’m “supposed” to be in, rather than just let myself be in whatever mood I am actually, naturally in?

This makes sense if I’m in a bad mood, seeking out the good. It’s worth pursuing happiness in that circumstance. But why do I seek out the negative when I’m feeling positive?

These are great questions. Unfortunately, if there are great answers, I don’t know what they are.

Perhaps I am not so happy as I suppose. I have found that this is true of many people. For at least myself, though, what I hope is more likely is that perhaps I am not so unhappy as I portray.

For now, though, I will just try to work on letting myself feel what I feel, and on letting myself express positivity without justifying it or toning it down.
People grieve and bemoan themselves, but it is not half so bad with them as they say. There are moods in which we court suffering, in the hope that here, at least, we shall find reality, sharp peaks and edges of truth. But it turns out to be scene-painting and counterfeit. The only thing grief has taught me, is to know how shallow it is. That, like all the rest, plays about the surface, and never introduces me into the reality …
Temperament also enters fully into the system of illusions, and shuts us in a prison of glass which we cannot see. There is an optical illusion about every person we meet.
from Experience by Ralph Waldo Emerson


Emily Searle said...

You are definitely not alone

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