on feeling

Sometimes I feel utterly paralyzed by the vast limits that exist when comparing the human experience. But time and time again I take solace in words, our protestors against barriers, our builders of bridges.

What does love feel like?

Love feels like a swelling at your heartscape, balloon-like, brilliant. It feels like standing at the bus stop on your first day of kindergarten; you have to say goodbye to your parents and you know that you might not like it, or that the kids there might not like you. But there’s lifting at your chest that picks up your feet and, before you know it, you are getting on the yellow bus.

What does tiredness feel like?

Tiredness is a feeling of pressing around the eyes, upper cheeks and forehead. It’s a feeling of lead in the body magnetically pulling you to your bed, a dull headache, a dusty coating over all of your thoughts.

What does complete communication feel like?

Completely honest communication feels like cracking your ribs open without anesthetic and laying your red heart on a white plate. You hand the plate to the other person knowing that they might simply toss it in the trash. But, if they pick up the plate and examine the contents carefully, they might decide to crack open their own ribs and put their heart on the same plate so that you both can examine your hearts together. At some point, it will be time to put your hearts back inside but you might find that there are parts that got mixed up and so, when you place your ribs back together, there’s a part of them in you and a part of you in them.

What does “should” feel like?

Should feels like an invisible silky rope tied to every finger and every toe, to your shoulders, knees, hips and head and wrapped around your torso. Stuck to the spiders web, you are a fly waiting to be eaten.

What does being present feel like?

Being present feels like swimming naked before you even realized that you had shed your clothes. By the time you reach out to grab them, they are already floating away. Perhaps a piece or two skims your fingertips but, try as you might, you can’t catch them. When it comes time to get out of the water, you don’t have a towel to dry off with so you walk around wet for a while before going and putting on new clothes.

What does writing a letter feel like?

Writing a letter feels like your soul stole a pen, hijacked your hand, and tore down the bars so that the words could escape fast and free. Writing a letter feels like power. It feels like a high, but one you totally deserve. It feels like a stream in a desert, a boat at sea, a walking bridge over a busy highway.

What does acceptance feel like?

Acceptance feels like waking up after too little sleep with a sore throat and snow in April. There’s nowhere really to go but a café so you order a cup of coffee even though it hurts your stomach and, as you drink it, you watch the servers behind the counter cut apples and avocadoes. You think to yourself how beautiful they are, how beautiful you are.

What does letting go of addictive patterns feel like?

Letting go of addictive patterns feels like you have reached the end of the moving walkway and, for the first time, you have to walk on your own which is terrifying but also exhilarating. For the first time, you have hope that you will actually make it out of the airport and onto your flight.

What does freedom feel like?

Freedom feels like a pillar of clear bright light rooted firmly to the ground. The pillar is porous and emotions—sadness, stress, laziness, loneliness—pass through the light, but the light never wavers in quality or intensity. It never forgets its capacity for boundless, uninhibited love.

What does wanting feel like?

Wanting feels like anger and love got together and made a baby, a savage animal, uninhibited and radiating with a hungry energy that is almost impossible to satiate. It feels like an injection surging through all of your cells and you have only two choices with only a split second to make the decision: move or stay frozen.

What does writing feel like?

Writing feels like your parents told you that you would never have to stop sleeping with your favorite baby blanket. It feels like finding out that instead of watching other people’s movies you could star in your own, like skydiving without being sure that the parachute will open properly, like getting swept up in an angry tide, like getting a free plane ticket to Tasmania, like being brave enough to go on the scariest ride at the amusement park and then deciding that you didn’t want to get off. It’s a means of falling in love with yourself.

What does dancing feel like?

Dancing feels like little rivets of energy ricocheting out of your hands and feet, elbows and knees, hips and head. It feels like compulsion. It feels like the soul set free.

What does coming home feel like?

Coming home feels like entering a quiet house, empty but replete with welcome. The fridge is full of food that you can eat and everything is clean. You take a hot shower and then let your skin dry cool before napping on your parent’s bed, feeling their presence, knowing that they love you very much.

What does changing feel like?

Changing feels like jumping into a pit of mud and bathing every inch of your body in it. At points you may want to get out, but then you realize that you are already dirty. You may look around and realize that others are clean, but you start to realize that you kind of like your dirtiness.

What does community feel like?

Community feels like a floor littered with mats, blankets, pillows and people of all ages lying on their backs—like nap time at preschool—trying to feel for the first time since maybe they were four what it’s like to truly experience sensations in the body. Then they gather in a circle and talk about it afterwards.

What does peace feel like?

Peace feels like an envelopment. You are lying on your back and the warm water cradles you, rocking you gently. Colors dance underneath your closed eyes and you can tell the sun is shining. Someone is singing to you, their voice a myriad tones of love. You need nothing else.

What does truly living feel like?

Trying living feels like realizing that all the stories that you have ever heard about life are actually life and what’s more they can be part of your story too. But you realize that, even though your life may have been climbing toward some sort of narrative, that climb got steeper and steeper and now you are on a ledge and, even though the natural thing to do would be to keep climbing, you have a glimpse of recognition that you could also try falling. If you jumped, you might fall onto another ledge, or into a forest or perhaps you would start flying.

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