30 minutes roaming around in the drizzling rain and my camera lens is flooded with more emotion than I express in probably an entire month…
I have chosen to live my life as an emotional mute for the past I don’t know how long. I claim to be a romantic -one who is inclined toward passionate expression of feelings or ideas- but the only people who see that side of me have to dig it out and are typically shocked by what they unearth.
Today hard soil was broken free in my heart (as it has been for the past 2.5 months). It all started with the eternally honest faces of children around this city. Even when trying to conceal emotion, their eyes radiated truth. Take a look at each of these images and ask yourself this question just as I was forced to do:
“When was the last time I expressed or even let myself feel this sort of emotion?”
Context: Playing with friends at school. A goal has just been scored. What comes next? CELEBRATION!
Mr. Man U (left) feels on top of the world (#1 being raised with his right hand). Arms are spread wide… nothing can hold him back and nothing can keep him from soaring. Mr. Chelsea (mid, black shirt) joins in the celebration as the one who made a great pass to allow the goal to be scored… enjoying the bond created by cooperation that lead to success. Double Trouble (middle/middle right, white shirts) prepare to embrace even though they had nothing to do with the score, as they had been back on defense. Undoubtedly, these two share many emotions and life events together. They are simply happy to be on the same team, living life together and having someone to run to and hug when they want to enjoy one another’s happiness. Bokeh Bunch (far right two blurred in the background) are innocent bystanders inflicted with joy. They are openly wanting to take part in and share with others the happiness of the world around them. One runs flat out to high five Mr. Man U and the other points and shouts, drawing the attention of everyone else to the excitement of Mr. Man U.
I tried as hard as I could to imagine myself expressing this kind of emotion in anything besides an athletic scenario. I honestly couldn’t. I can’t remember the last time I’ve jumped and down out of happiness, rang in to celebrate in a friend’s success, or simply ran to a friend to embrace in mutual emotion.
Take a look at the grip that little guy is getting to affirm the connection of that hug. Holy moly!!! The last time I was hugging someone that hard I was in tears!
Haha, from the emotion on this one girl’s face, it is obvious that she was unsure why I was there or why in the world I was taking a photo anywhere in her general vicinity. This is simply outstanding to me! What’s so impressive to me is the simple fact that even in an Asian culture, where showing emotion isn’t always the norm, she still had no problem staring right into the camera. ‘So what? Isn’t it normal to look at a random stranger who is taking a picture of you?’ No, actually, for me it is not. In fact, I tend to do the exact opposite. Not only will I try to maintain a blank face, but if it is at all possible, I will also attempt to hide my face or completely remove it from the frame altogether.
What’s wrong with me? Why am I so afraid of people seeing what my face is saying to them? Perhaps the answer lies within the question. I am afraid. I am afraid that my face will tell the truth about whatever my heart is actually feeling- joy, suffering, peace, stress, contentment, excitement, nervousness, or simply nothing at all.
Sounds like a rational explanation and reasoning behind my emotional muteness. On the contrary- if anything it is illogical. The outward expression of emotion gives off signals to everyone else that allow them to properly respond to whatever it is that I am feeling. In fact, expression not only gives off signals, but it also allows for the redemption/release of negative emotions and the exponential multiplication of positive emotions. If I am feeling sad and someone knows about it, they can console me. If I am feeling happy and show it, they can join in my happiness by affirming it or making it their own.
Let me use a photo to explain. Below is an image of two boys fighting. When I first rode past them, they were going at it so hard that I was going to try and break up the fight so nobody would get hurt– release/correction of negative emotions based on signals of outward expression.
You will quickly see that these boys aren’t really fighting, they are simply playing! Not 5 seconds after I stopped and whipped out my camera, they saw me about to catch the brawl and then decided to flash a smile at the camera. At this point, the signals that I received from their faces clearly expressed their true emotional state. This relived my stress and a smile on my face that commanded a slight chuckle as I snapped the shot and moved on. Their emotion broke away some of my barriers and allowed me to see the joy in my own self-expression.
With the sight of fertile soil lying just under the surface of my hardened shell, I continued to dig deeper. It didn’t take very long for me to spend hours on Youtube browsing and searching for examples of pure expression. How could I spend so much time doing that? More importantly, why could I spend so much time doing that? It is because I crave emotion… I crave feeling… and my heart longs to actually share those feelings and emotions.
It got to the point where I just broke down in tears out of the realization of what I was hiding from myself. I have so much to share with those around me (good and bad) that would probably change the way people looked at me forever, or for at least a moment! The truth is, hardly anybody really knows me because hardly anybody sees it when I do have the kind of emotions that you see in the images above. I do have them, that’s for darn sure, but the lips of my expression have been hand-sewn shut by my own fear. I think it’s time to remove the stitching and let truth spill out a little.