Feeling the Feelings

I woke up at 5:30 this morning, as I tend to, but then I was able to fall right back to sleep. In the hour and a half that followed I had this dream.

In the dream, I am writing a short story:

Once there was a girl who wanted her writing to be real and alive with emotional impact. So every day before she sat down to write, she would stand at her open window and simply let herself feel. As she let the feelings wash through her, she would weep, great tears falling like rain from her window onto the plants below. Then she would turn from the window, sit down at her table, and write.

One day as she was looking from her window, she noticed that leaves and vines were growing in wild riot below her window. As her feelings began to rise and flow through her, and the tears began to fall, she noticed that where each tear fell, a small plant would begin to grow, whether it fell on brick or wood or other plants. At the point of each tear’s impact, a leaf or sprout would emerge and start to grow.

Her feelings enriched her stories, and they also greened and grew the world around her.

In the dream, I become the girl who is writing. I am trying to help my friends solve a problem, but for each thing I offer to do, they see another problem on the other side. I retreat into myself, and start to wear my hair down over my face like a veil. I stand in corners and alcoves so I can watch people without being seen.

I am burdened with the weight of emotion and pain that has no solution.


It was sort of a relief to wake up and put down the weight of feelings! But although the dream is heavy, and the ending is isolating, I am grateful for the essential message, that feelings have a green and growing reality in the world outside ourselves.

Now I am sitting at my own writing table, looking out to the snowy hill behind the house, and the red-gold glow of the sun is illuminating the trees in the woods, first the tops of the trunks further up the hill, and now the little oak at the edge of the wood is glowing, too. (And then, in a moment, the clouds must have come over the sun, and the wood has gone wintry grey.)


Gratitude List:
1. The way the morning sun sets the woods to glowing.
2. Feelings, even when they are big, especially when they are big.
3. Long sleep and dreams rich with messages.
4. Something got into my kids yesterday. Kid #2 is always re-arranging his room, but yesterday he went big and tried a wildly creative (and mostly successful) configuration. Suddenly Kid #1 was re-arranging his monster computer set-up. I think he may have stayed up most of the night, but this morning, it looks mostly tidy and organized in a way it has never been. Settling into spaces.
5. Yesterday’s crockpot stew–comfort food on a cold wintry day.
May we walk in Wisdom!


“Today I am grateful for truth, for narratives that center stories of people who have been cut from the narratives told by the powerful to skew the truth to their own agenda. I am grateful for the weavers and menders and spinners who pick up the torn and tangled threads and get to work to repair the tapestry of our story, holding the lie-mongers to account, and weaving in the threads of truth.” —Mockingbird


“A man is either free, or he is not. There cannot be an apprenticeship for freedom.” —Amiri Baraka


“Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.” ―bell hooks, killing rage: Ending Racism


“Consider whether great changes have not happened deep inside your being in times when you were sad. The only sadnesses that are unhealthy and dangerous are those we carry around in public in order to drown them out. Like illnesses that are treated superficially, they only recede for a while and then break out more severely. Untreated they gather strength inside us and become the rejected, lost, and unlived life that we may die of. If only we could see a little farther than our knowledge reaches and a little beyond the borders of our intuition, we might perhaps bear our sorrows more trustingly than we do our joys. For they are the moments when something new enters us, something unknown. Our feelings grow mute in shy embarrassment, they take a step back, a stillness arises, and the new thing, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it all and says nothing.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“After silence,
that which comes nearest to
expressing the inexpressible,
is music.” —Aldous Huxley


“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts.
Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts.
Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me…
Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
—Shel Silverstein

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