I’ve been thinking lately about feeling feelings. I know this sounds madly hippy-ish and New Age, with a dash of Chicken Soup for the Soul on the side, but I think it is an important and rather difficult life skill.
It’s horrid tax time, and I have to do all the things I am really crap at. I have to chase up figures, and look through financial statements, and rummage for tragically lost pieces of paper, which are not in nicely available files, but hidden in tottering piles on the floor, and often turn out to have been eaten by mice.
This makes me feel: tense, stupid, inadequate and embarrassed.
I contemplate, as I always do, the shining, organised people, for whom tax returns hold no fears. I think how lovely it must be to be able to write to the accountant without fear. I rather despise myself for not being able to turn myself into one of those people. How hard can it be, after all? If only I would make a little more effort, and put my shoulder to the wheel.
I do not like any of these feelings. I really only like doing things I am reasonably good at. I am not a brilliant rider, but I am good enough to enjoy getting on my beautiful mare. As I took her out this morning, she had a bit of a twinkle in her toes and set me some challenges, and I had the delightful feeling of being good enough to meet them. It does not bother me that I shall never scale the heights, do perfect dressage or turn myself into a barrel racer (although that is my latest crazed dream; I think the duchess would love it). In that sphere, I am happy to be good enough. As long as my red girl and I can mooch along in harmony, the joy flies upward.
I like writing because even though I shall never be quite as good as my dizzy aspirations, I have practised long enough to be able to carry a tune. Just as I have a natural feeling for horses, which must have been born in me, I have a natural feeling for words. It is like those people who have an ear for languages, or an innate sense of musicality. You still have to graft and strive, but you have a ready advantage: it is in your wheelhouse.
I have no natural feeling for organisation, or money, or figures. I must go against the grain, in those dark areas. I am faced with the brutally blank spaces of my own inadequacy. So I procrastinate wildly, and then curse myself for that particular weakness.
Yesterday, I sat down and made a start. There was no way I could avoid the horrid feelings, and I felt them all.
It wasn’t so bad.
I said to myself: what is the worst that can happen? The worst is: I shall feel uncomfortable. I will have to feel feelings which are not a carnival.
All these things come true. I shift in my seat and feel a pressure on my head as if someone is pressing there. I berate myself a little and put on my dunce’s cap. But that really is not the most terrible thing in the world. It sounds a bit bald, but as I get older I increasingly say to myself, for perspective: nobody died. If nobody died, then it all may be managed.
Of course this is the logical, adult brain. Sadly, I cannot always call on this. The irrational, instant gratification side of the brain wants everything to be bluebirds and bloody butterflies. It does not like feeling scratchy and stupid and will pull all kinds of wily stunts to avoid it. But, obvious as it may sound, feelings must be felt. Otherwise they mug you later, and then there is hell to pay.
Three pictures today.
The woody ones make me feel happy and calm:
Usually, I put up Herself looking ravishing. Her beauty makes me feel delighted and proud. But she also has a fine line in comedy, and she makes me laugh daily, sometimes by doing a good old donkey face:
Ha. The reserved Briton in me is shouting: DON’T POST A WHOLE BLOG ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS, YOU FOOL. But I damn well am going to share with the group. I have this odd idea that revealing one’s follies and frailties is as important as talking of one’s triumphs. Probably more important. Then the Dear Readers can chime in, and we can have a good old share-up and after that, nothing seems so bad.
I’m risking it, anyway, despite my residual stiff upper lip.