Scared to Care

We float on the surface of life, happy to ignore the depths we can’t see.
How often do we think of the thousands of miles of earth beneath our feet,
the microscopic worlds within us,
or the endless light-years of space above our heads?

And it’s not much different, closer to home.
We know how to use a smart phone or computer, but how many of us understand the electronics that give them life?
I’m happy to sit in a car or plane, and let them move me, though I know little of how they function.
And I don’t think much about the body beneath my skin, unless something goes wrong.

Our mind and heart are even more mysterious.
There’s so much about who I am that is out of reach, and I’m all too comfortable with ignorance, especially when it comes to emotions.

What are these movements of energy that have names like joy, anger, grief, and fear?
Each one has its own unique identity, like the colors of the rainbow.
Science can tell us what range of frequencies corresponds to each color, or what happens in our brains and bodies when an emotion passes through us.
But the experience of each color and each emotion is totally different than the technical details.

And we don’t just ignore the depths of emotion; we actively hide from them.

For many reasons.
Grief and fear aren’t fun to experience.
And our culture is obsessed with feeling good.

Society encourages us to define ourselves by our feelings and thoughts as much or more than by what we do.
Negative feelings tear at that self-image.
Fear makes us feel small and weak.
Anger makes us feel out of control, and often guilty for what we say while angry.

Some of us hide from positive feelings, too.
Emotions are so powerful they make us feel out of control.
And if we let in one emotion, the others will follow.

We’re afraid to care.
Not because we’re heartless.
We let parents, children, spouses, and friends into our heart to share their joys and pains.
And the sorrows of the world, reported in the media that surrounds us, break through once in a while.

It’s not that we have hearts of stone, but we wonder what would happen if we let ourselves feel without limit?
Could we stomach letting the horrors and hopelessness that many face every day into our comfortable lives?

Emotions paralyze, but they also teach us.
Our fears, sadness, and anger often point us to places where we need to go to realize the potential within us.
Our emotions are an opening, a weak spot in the walls of our lives, where we can break through to something greater.

We can become more like machines and follow the same tired paths every day in a world of objects where feelings are foolish.
Or we can live.

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