Skip to content

Authors at the Water Color: Avoiding Emotions Triggers Emotion

you cant run away forever!

Kino knew who was knocking. The knocking wanted him to get out of bed and open the door. Forcefully, persistently. The person didn’t have the strength to open the door from the outside. The door had to be opened by Kino’s own hand, from the inside. It struck him that this visit was exactly what he’d been hoping for, yet, at the same time, what he’d been fearing above all. The ambiguous ambiguity was precisely this, holding on to an empty space between two extremes. “You were hurt, a little, weren’t you?” his wife had asked. “I’m human, after all. I was hurt,” he’d replied. But that wasn’t true. Half of it, at least, was a lie. I wasn’t hurt enough when I should have been, Kino admitted to himself. When I should have felt real pain, I stifled it. I didn’t want to take it on, so I avoided facing up to it. Which is why my heart is so empty now. The snakes have grabbed that spot and are trying to hide their coldly beating hearts there. “This was a comfortable place not just for me but for anybody,” Kamita had said. Kino finally understood what he meant.

-- Men Without Women: Stories (affiliate link)

He wasn’t sure why, but he felt no anger or bitterness toward his wife, or the colleague she was sleeping with. The betrayal had been a shock, for sure, but, as time passed, he began to feel as if it couldn’t have been helped, as if this had been his fate all along. In his life, after all, he had achieved nothing, had been totally unproductive. He couldn’t make anyone else happy, and, of course, couldn’t make himself happy. Happiness? He wasn’t even sure what that meant. He didn’t have a clear sense, either, of emotions like pain or anger, disappointment or resignation, and how they were supposed to feel. The most he could do was create a place where his heart—devoid now of any depth or weight—could be tethered, to keep it from wandering aimlessly. This little bar, Kino, tucked into a backstreet, became that place. And it became, too—not by design, exactly—a strangely comfortable space.

-- Men Without Women: Stories (affiliate link)

If Kino had dealt with his feelings of anger and grief from infidelity off the jump, he would have felt the pain and moved on. Instead, by supressing it, he ended up feeling the pain much further down the road and has lost the time he could've felt similar.

Thorfinn went through something similar in Vinland Saga, after losing the object of his hatred, his purpose for being. But he realized the only way to address this empty feeling was to fill it with something else. With a goal. With care.

Kino was robbed not only happiness, hatred and sadness, but his ability to care.

Usually, such moments are short-lived, as the mind quickly resumes its noise-making activity that we call thinking. Love, joy, and peace cannot flourish until you have freed yourself from mind dominance. But they are not what I would call emotions. They lie beyond the emotions, on a much deeper level. So you need to become fully conscious of your emotions and be able to feel them before you can feel that which lies beyond them. Emotion literally means “disturbance.” The word comes from the Latin emovere, meaning “to disturb.”

-- The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (affiliate link)

At the bottom of the pool, where the surface is disturbed, lie the next step you need to take. Making calm intentional decisions is like waiting until the surface of the water settles before reaching in. If you can't see, you won't be able to hit your target.

“It is emotion that allows you to mark things as good, bad, or indifferent.”

-- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones (affiliate link)

At the same time, waiting and watching emotions to give them time to dispel is not the same as ignoring them, as Kino did. You can actually use the disturbance itself to teach you about the true nature of why you are feeling what you are feeling. Injustice triggers anger, success triggers pride, the unknown triggers fear. These are helpful signals as to what is really going on.

Comments