It was a strange sight to behold indeed. They were streaming in from all sides – the north, the south, the east and the west; from above and some even from below. For hours they gathered – the small and the big, the gangly, scrubby, round and the slender, the fragile and the mighty, the tired, the old and young, the smelly and cocky, the goofs and the jokesters, the permanently depressed and those with frequent hiccups. They brought their food and their hats and their mumbling, grumbling, eye-rolling foreign relatives. The sun was setting, the clouds were clearing, tiny stars began to sparkle for attention and the moon had once again eaten himself into an entirely jovial and rotund-ly state.
They sat and waited, swaying from side to side, some in misshapen circles, others treading back and forth; some were humming and yet others were eating a random carrot; or two if they had remembered to bring it. Side by side this strangest of strange amalgamation of life and energy and most disagreeable odour sat and waited, patiently – waiting for – it all to start.
Today someone had died. One of their own; had ripped the life right out of his body; crumpled it up, threw it away, left it discarded. The life had been found lying shivering and alone in a puddle of mud and he, not far from it, swaying in a tree…small little circles… it had all looked so peaceful and the wind had been so warm that day. The once so animated body, strong and lithe and beautiful – if beauty existed…was now so limp and frail and unrecognizable and belonged to no one.. ownerless, a shell or a cast… but not as before.
Within the wide circle that the living had formed in their waiting now appeared a figure. Small… a child. Unafraid and entirely present, it stood and looked upon the many eyes; even the most cross-eyed of them had now angled the head or body or neck so that it could capture the child in their midst – with utmost attention and foreboding. Not a soul moved, blinked or chewed a random carrot.
The wind picked up and the child began to speak to them about the departed – He had been one of their most precious, most faithful and exceedingly hopeful. Everyone knew this, felt this, suffered through this knowing….
Cause of death the child whispered was a feeling not expressed.
No one understood. A feeling not expressed? How and what and why could that be the cause of death. They stared bewildered. Unheard of…spectacularly irrational…; someone choked on a piece of carrot
It is quite simple the child continued. Take hold of a feeling. Any feeling. Hold it in your hand – gently, so as not to disturb it too much – and look at it.. really look. See. From all angles.
This feeling holds your essence
The child said. Within its murky façade is hidden, anchored, rooted, birthed – YOU. Yes! You, the child said and pointed at each and every one of them. All gawked and pointed at themselves in disbelieve, following the tip of their own appendage as it waved nonsense in front of their eyes.
The feelings that bubble up from our stomachs – some suddenly unexpectedly and others years in the making – are not disconnected, ownerless, transparent, ungraspable strangers. Each one contains some of you, all of you…your experience and history and the scars and the laughter and the salty tears and the nervous giggles and hopeful quips.
They are you you are they and bubbling, rising, floating to the surface, they have to be set afloat, free to soar upon the wind…. to be expressed.
The creatures all stared up and around, expecting tiny, fragile feelings to come flapping by on their journey to heaven. Some squinted and YES, believed themselves to be seeing the faintest of something incomprehensible gliding by; excitement and some hiccups.
The child patiently waited for their wondering eyes and ears to once more focus on the center.
It is a tricky business to set those feelings free. There are doors and windows and cracks and the tiniest of openings for tiniest of feelings to move through but they are all too often obscured and hidden and forgotten.
It is not easy to set your feelings free
And feelings rise and bubble and are born again and again and build up. Soon there are too many and they push and shove and trample one another. None can see and all panic and the air gets stale and there is a frantic call for help. But the doors remain hidden the windows obscured and the cracks forgotten.
Feelings need to be set free upon the wind to be expressed.
There is joy and anger and hurt and love and hope and loss and despair and oh so many wishes and some little quivers of wonder. All are you and all die frantically alone in the dark and overcrowded interior.
To be set free upon the wind is to be allowed to journey from one heart to another heart. There is life in such a journey. There is hope and expectation and wonder. There is a space for breath and a moment for miracles.
Everyone nodded in unison. None understood but all felt it in their hearts. There was something there. The child had expressed some truth; a truth none could hold on to, make sense of – logically. But their hearts understood.
He has died, the child said. He died because as strong and powerful and true as his feelings were, they were lost in an endless maze and locked up too tightly. They could not break free. They never emerged, never were expressed and never experienced potential.
Unable to share his feelings, he died, a lonely death. You see, the child said. Feelings are there to be shared and when they are, they create connections and bridges and invisible strands of energy between the sender and recipients. They bind us to one another and displace the loneliness in space.
Thousands of tiny feeling-connections, unseen, leave no room for loneliness
Unbound and disconnected, he died a lonely death.
As one they looked upon the child and from the child upon the tiniest of life flickering in a puddle of mud. They looked upon their dangling comrade. Someone asked if the life could be inserted back into the body and others shook their heads in remorse. That was a feat for the Gods, not for them.
A moment of silence was followed by a small ruckus as from the back emerged a scraggly figure. It found its way into the circle and sat by the child. I want to speak, it said. And all nodded their agreement. The tiny life in the puddle of mud flickered.
It seems that this story that the child has woven is all too true. It has stirred me deeply. But, I want to add a few words. Offer the missing question.
Can doors and windows and cracks, I wonder, be found and opened from the outside?
Can my feelings find their way into you and as such, set your feelings free?
The child added – feelings, I suppose, are two way streets. Connections establish themselves from one being to another; from one heart to another heart. They never exist as strands from one being to – nothingness.
The figure beside the child nodded. It rose up and tenderly lifted the flickering life out of the puddle and into the air.
Let us honor this departed life with but one oath
Let us from this day forth bind ourselves to this one commitment
– Never again shall we let our feelings be bound too tight –
– Never again shall we allow the remotest chances to build connections between ourselves pass us by –
– Never again shall we look past one another and forget the lonely –
– Never again –
And the doors and windows and cracks – they will be – burst open.
And the spaces between us will hum with the flapping of winged feelings carrying whatever they may from one life to another
There was an uproar a kafuffle and much hiccupping as one and all turned and jumped and swore out loud the one and only oath that was to bind them all. Their voices rang out – raspy and sweet and tender and melodious, in random, chaotic, beautiful unison… and upon the wind there were set loose feelings and each and every one saw them flapping in delight
And upon the wind there was also a loud and pulsating and vibrant oath of
– Never again –