Who Is Emotion?

By Maya Petzoldt, TIWP Student

Emotions are often struggled with, people juggling definitions back and forth. People sometimes travel for years at a time to find them, and then believe they have found an answer. Perhaps they have found the answers, or perhaps they are tired of searching, and simply trick themselves into thinking they have. Some people are immortalized in religion and culture as having found the answers or made them up themselves.

And how understandable is that, how could we not wish for a reason for emotion, for someone to finally understand! Why would you not want an answer to why you feel? If only you could meet them.

Sadness is always trapped under a rain of connotation. She sits on a forgotten bench in dark blue jeans, a white long sleeve shirt, and new shoes. Meanwhile, what most call hell rains from above, others liken it to a hurricane. You will see her, no jacket or coat, only her and the elements, and you will think she is the embodiment of woe. The tears from the sky soak her to the bone, yet her expression stays the same, never changing. You will never see her shiver, never quiver nor shake, you will only hear the distant clap of thunder.

Anger, forced into a cage built from dignity and pride, is gilded with politeness. She has torn her hair short with her own hands, looking for a release, and she claws at the bronze bars of her “room.” She screams at you, not words nor hurt nor hate, words unsung by the people, by you and every other person on the street, words of rage. Her arms are littered with scars, scars of her own making. Bite marks and nail indents, because you have taken her key to the cage. You never let her out, and so here she stays.

Melancholy always wears her headphones of confusion, and listens to the music of silence. She leaves a quartz building, jumping down the steps to an invisible beat. The sun shines high, yet the world seems cast in a shadow of indifference. You try to speak, but she will not listen, she has forgotten you even existed. What need for patience does she have, when all she will do is dance the day and problem away? What need is there for answers when you don’t know the question? Once she reaches the bottoms of the steps, she will walk up them again, for the sun is too bright, and the shadows too dark.

Grief wallows in the pews of an empty church, perhaps sharing a thought of regret, and an assumption of failure. She believes everyone can live forever, the coffin is there because of her. In it there is a relative, a broken promise, an unachievable dream. She is in mourning. Inside the wood, long stripped of his color, is a lost hope, a worrisome trouble, a loved one. She does not cry, she stays silent with wide eyes, and looks to you for what could have been.

Happiness is a fleeting feeling that plagues the masses. You remember her feeling, this smiling woman who joins the jumbling crowds, that chasing feeling of endorphins, joy, and glee. She pulls you along, on an unending journey. Your feet will go sore, and you will wonder how she manages in high heels. The truth, you realize, is that happiness does not know what she is, ever-changing as the mob she leads. She will run forever, if it means anything.

Envy is a truly deadly concoction of denial and greed. Envy sits in a crowded mall, watching people go. She pulls her hood over head in guilt, and remarks jealous things to herself. She convinces herself with these sly remarks that you can only have what you get, that others’ achievements can never be met. You have done something, have something, gained something, that is divine in every right, and can never be given to someone like her. She denies herself the ounce of will to try, because how much is it really worth anyways?

Love is unconditional, inexplicable, and often unobtainable. She sits in a tree, and waits for people to walk under her, to trap them with her scarf. You don’t know why she chooses to jump on some people and not others, and you can never get a straight answer for her. Sometimes the tree grows too tall, and she is scared to jump, and no matter how you try, you can’t coax her down. Other times you wish she would jump on this one person, but she stubbornly climbs higher instead. She won’t jump now, no matter how many times you ask.

Fear is the emotion that explains itself and builds its own prison. This woman is filled to the brim with anxiety, and often hides her face in her jacket. She fears her own horror, and builds stone walls to prevent her feelings. Yet when you approach, she abandons her walls and runs away, to another place, to build another wall. You can’t talk to her, she only screams in your presence. But you won’t stop, because you just want to talk. She never will, for she’s scared of both your shadow and hers.

Want is often mistaken for love and greed, two very similar things. She likes things, shiny things, dull things, and many, many things. She never stops moving, her hair waving in the wind behind her, as she looks side to side. She’s another one that won’t listen to you, for she’s searching. Searching for something to want, something to like, just something. Sometimes she wants a flower, on the highest branch on a tree, and accidentally falls into a stranger’s arms, no matter how much you warn her. Sometimes she takes things for no reason, and there is little you can do to stop her.

Hate is a virus tamed only by kindness, and cured by lonesome thoughts. Hate resembles anger if she was not in a cage. She goes to every person on the street, and yells words of dislike and painted with malice. Some people smile at her, and she looks at them in confusion, and walks away. But when you find her, she is sitting by the curb, silent, with a frown on her face. You don’t talk to her, for what can you say? For now she sits in silence, crowded by thoughts. Does she hate you, them, or herself? What is hate, dislike, hurting, when you’re all by your lonesome?

So emotions are complicated beings, and perhaps even emotions have emotions. Perhaps these feelings can be explained, or perhaps not. Every person is made up of many, many emotions. We call this their personality, and we spend hours attempting to explain them. But maybe, just maybe, we should accept that we are, and forever will be, unexplained.

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