Every day these past two weeks has felt like a Friday: a vague lightness in the shadow of overwhelming demands, events, expectations. And I can’t help but wonder if as these days pass and the shadow distances into the past, I won’t notice, or think to take the time to sense the lightness. I don’t want to take this for granted. I don’t want to lose it.
I have been thinking more about words and emotions. I have a paperback on my shelf that is 300 or so pages of named emotions. But then I also think of the platypus and how just because we name something (a bird, a mammal, a sorrow) doesn’t make it true.
Words are no more accurate than paintings or music in communicating the human experience in terms of “feelings”. Sometimes I wonder if music isn’t really the most direct way to connect with one another? Don’t get me wrong. I am not a music person. I rarely listen to music, but when I do it can overwhelm me. Especially if the lyrics and the melody work together in a way that makes the diaphragm move unexpectedly and send signals to the brain that trigger loss or longing (if those are actually discrete emotions). Or joy, actually.
The minor chord in REM’s “Shiny Happy People” – the dissonance with the lyrics – is so recognizable to me that sometimes it seems like the only authentic song about happiness. About wanting to be happy.
That song makes me feel human. But even if I found a good word to describe the particular shade of human experience, there’s no guarantee it would help. Maybe the shade is so much deeper when it’s unclassified?
I have a memory of sorts that I sometimes have just before sleep. It has a texture. Textures, actually. Something hard and something sponge-like. It is palpable and neither good nor bad. Though uneasy perhaps. It feels as deep as a well, and as just-out-of-reach (for all its palpableness) as a whole, an “everything”.
And of course, I have tried to pin it down to an early childhood experience. Could it be…? But I know anything I land on to make sense of it will be a guess. And it would take the magic away. Because when this memory comes just before sleep, I relish its uneasiness. I feel connected to something elemental – even if it is only to my own childhood self.
Norwegians have a word for the ancient, or primal: ur. I figure there is a good English word for that as well, but I doubt it sounds as guttural.