Some of my thinking lately has reminded me of this article that I wrote in the late 1980s about rediscovering the power and need to be emotionally alive. This article was part of a column that I wrote called “The Editor’s Wild Hair” for a little print newsletter that I inflicted upon friends and family called, “Air, Dirt & Ink.” [Sigh], the good ol’ days.
Journal Classic: Following the Logic of Feelings
Heart, why are you pounding like a hammer?
Heart, why are you beating like a drum?
Heart, why do you make such a commotion
when I’m waiting for my baby to come?
Oh heart, don’t do it if it’s not the real thing
Heart, I get so easily deceived
Heart, there is no other I can turn to
if not you, heart, then who can I believe?”
“Heart” by Nick Lowe
I vividly remember when it first happened. It was in the seventh grade when I walked up to Mary Hinck and said, “Hi,” and she said rather unfeelingly, “Oh, it’s you.” It’s like I didn’t even really know that it was there until it came crashing to the ground in front of God and everyone. Jesus, I thought, if this is what love feels like, I don’t want any part of it.
I didn’t mean that, of course, and have spent the intervening 17 years demonstrating it to no one in particular. But something very definitely changed after that first brush with emotional death.
photobooth iowans by 3Neus/flickr
Back at home, though I never once for a moment doubted my parent’s love for me or my siblings; emotions, especially anger, seemed to be like Steven Spielbergian pyrotechnics. Like the much-feared nuclear holocaust, there would be a blinding flash of emotional light: my father would explode over some such reality of living with five children. My mother would then deploy her tactical arsenal. Another flash, then children running in every direction, vainly hoping to avoid becoming part of the scorched landscape. Then just as quickly as it had begun, it would be over. Father would be about his business and mother would continue hers. It all seemed to my childish mind to be quite unnecessary.
So it only seems right that at one point in my life I hung around with a religious group that held to the philosophy that “feelings” could not be trusted. “Feelings, they come and go, but objective truth, now there’s the ticket.” Of course the objective truth that was being referred to here was the Bible, the Scoffield Reference Bible in the King James Version to be more specific. And Love, well that had something to do with some Greek word and God and Jesus dying and . . . (all of which of course made no sense whatsoever to my teenage mind, but who was I to scoff at the insights of my elders?).
I don’t know why I always seem to use this column to take pot‑shots at Evangelical Christianity (no doubt an unconscious attempt to pay them back for the emotional trauma and near fatal brain damage I experienced while getting my Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies). In fact, before this starts sounding too much like “Sex and the Single Brain Cell,” I have to question the wisdom of attempting an article that would argue following the logic of emotions. I mean, either you understand it or you don’t.