Nothing More Than

Having a feeling is never going to kill you
— Julianne Moore

Actors feel - their job is to sell emotions, to convince the audience to join them on a journey into a character's life and their innermost world. In talking about her craft, Ms. Moore has hit upon a truism that seems patently clear - having a feeling will not kill you - yet is so often avoided in life.

Despite the ubiquity of the phrase, 'How are you?', many people are unaware of how they feel. The standard response to this question - 'Fine' - has yielded several plausible suggestions of what it might stand for as an acronym, one of which is 'F*cked-up, Insecure, Neurotic, Emotional'. Funny as that might seem, being unaware of one's feelings often leads to a disconnection from one's sense of self. People who have no concept of how they feel often experience existential angst despite all outward signs of normality in their lives.

For many, this disconnect often stems from a fear of emotions. Again, this might sound odd (see Ms. Moore above), but strong emotions and feelings are often managed away because they can be painful. Even joy can sometimes be avoided because the eventual absence of it can be too difficult to bear, and so rather than to have and have lost, some unconsciously manage their emotional registers to maintain an even keel so they are never really disappointed or sad, nor happy or optimistic. In other words, people manage their lives in such a way as to keep themselves safe from dangerous feelings - and since every feeling has the potential to be dangerous, every feeling potentially is to be avoided. The result is a circumscribed life.

Perhaps it's wiser to heed the actor's call: to feel, so as to live.