An open letter to the ones who aren’t afraid to feel:
“Why,” my friend asks a few hours later, “do you listen to such sad music all of the time?” It’s a rainy, grey day.
I respond, “To feel something.”
Earlier, I lay on my bed with my door locked, listening to slow and simple acoustic pieces, silently gasping for air. Holding my body in the fetal position, I feel like I am swimming in a sea of pain, and feel my roots shoot and expand from beneath me. I discover depths I don’t know exist.
I think of the moment my father tells me, “There are songs that evoke deep emotion, that bring to the surface subconscious feelings that deal with life, basic needs, and our very mortality.” He strums the very chords of the song he describes—“Old Man” by Neil Young—and I tear up while he sings, never having seen something so beautiful in my life.
Is it possible that we can only dig so deep in luminous melodies and sunny meadows?
Do we feel more human in the spaces where it isn’t always yellow, orange, and red?
I notice that I feel cozy in the shadows, and I feel it’s opposite, too: broken open, exposed to vastness.
There is magic in this unraveling of overwhelming feeling. It is profound, because it feels as though it holds the gravity of existence.
On rainy days like this, I open my windows, smell Earth, and listen to Neil Young. The sky cries down in its nutritious droplets, and while many complain of glum weather, I imagine pressing my cheek to the damp blades of nourished greenery and crying with her, imagining if a world could possibly exist without the humblest, kindest soul I’ve encountered, plucking guitar strings and singing me to sleep.
And it reminds me of how transient this all is, the insignificance of my daily frustrations, traffic. I feel my father’s warmth, and soon I am back in his arms, being carried in the wake of the ocean—drifting, light, calm.
I bring myself back to the smell of damp bark at camp, where I made lifelong friendships that distance proved too hard to maintain. I smile through these tears, for I have smelled the smells that pull at the heartstrings that induce this unraveling.
And so maybe grey skies, damp grass, and hazy fog rolling over the hills isn’t something we should hide in movie theaters, put raincoats and Netflix on, and run from.
Maybe it’s where many of us can feel and connect.
My mother recently said about her father’s passing, “If I feel so much pain in thinking about the loss of a loved one, how lucky am I? How lucky am I to have experienced such a deep love? Some people go their whole lives without ever experiencing this. The pain I experienced in my grief in losing my dad when I was young, and that lingers on as a part of me today, is something I’d choose over and over for a love like that.”
Grey days seem to remind us of death. But what if they hold as much life as the cloudless blue skies?
What if these days are where the bright vibrant skies are taken over by the place where black-and-white living meets in the middle, a representation of the balance so many of us continuously seek?
Isn’t it true that we can only go as high as we go deep? What if our roots reached down further when we exposed them to nourishment? Roots absorb the most water of the entire plant.
If you expose yourself to the situations that evoke the salt from your eyes, you are allowing yourself to feel the sweet fullness of what it means to exist.
You are nourishing your soul with your own rain, and the Earth is silently wrapping her arms around you, kissing your face and feeling you come alive.
She is helping you to experience the vastness and solace of existence, of what deep feeling and love really are.
Though there are times you may feel alone, there is one other who knows. The oldest rainforest, the Taman Negara, known as the “Lungs of the Earth,” cries more than any terrain. Do you know how much energy the rainforest supplies for us? The most oxygen of any terrain and one of the most ancient. 130 million years old, the Lungs of the Earth has survived ice ages.
Open woodlands filled with sun, and beaches filled with light and sea, cannot say the same.
Do you know how strong your tears have made you? How much life you have?
Our tears don’t make us weak. Yearning for them in songs, films, or books, does not make us dark, or depressed.
They make us strong. They deepen our roots. They are sustenance, just as the rain is.
These experiences are what my father would call pure art in motion.
And we are what my mother would call the luckiest people alive. Because we have chosen to feel something.
“If you numb yourself to pain, you also numb yourself to joy.” ~ Carolyn Day
Editor: Lieselle Davidson