Emotions Lack Names (And Sorely Need Them)

emotions lack names

Ever feel like you’re the still point of a turning world?

What is the word for that? Is there one? We need one.

What about the giddy bliss of freedom and expectation that comes with a completely unscheduled day. As compared to the freedom one feels when being oneself in front of others, completely, wholly unjudged. That freedom also holds power.

The power like holding your child and feeling super, greater than physics.

What’s the word for the rejection you feel when an animal doesn’t love you? And the happiness when you realize, you love it anyway?

The power felt when you stand up for what is right, even if it goes unnoticed. The power that is the opposite of the overwhelming impotence that comes from the mediocrity of a life lived, or the tension of wanting more.

Hoping that more into being.

Then there is the tension and confusion when your mind’s eye and your eye’s eye see different things. A mismatched memory, perhaps? Is that like the tension that comes from, what is it … aphasia?

Nothing like the satisfaction from the unexpected, unanticipated, but wholly accepted success of winning something you know you deserve. But not the same kind as the satisfaction of sneezing, scratching an itch, or Q-tipping your ears. How do we use words to separate physical satisfaction from that which is emotional?

Or that satisfaction from a richly lived and thoroughly enjoyed life full of not too much, but just enough.

So many emotions lack names and sorely need them. Words need to work harder, perhaps.

What’s it called when you feel the top of your head might pop off in the middle of a workday? Or at dinner? Or while seated on the toilet? The fear of the improbable. Different from the fear of the probable, like missing someone you just met but already know you love and of whom you will have to let go.

I always wanted a word for the fear and doubt of becoming my parents, threaded with the certainty (and pleasure) that I already have.

Is there a phobia for that? No, because it’s rational, a fear with certainty. Is that the same fear with certainty that whatever it is, it will never be enough? We feel this about others but never recognize it in ourselves. Because, unlike others, we have hope.

Hope that there will always be another…  Another favorite song to dance to, another new book to read excitedly, another new friend to grow old with and spill secrets to. Another love?

If that hope fades, what replaces it? Does that emotion have a name?

Feels like loneliness, perhaps, yet that varies, too. The emotional taxonomy falls short. Even more emotions that lack names.

It’s not the same kind of loneliness that comes from being surrounded by people who don’t understand. Not unlike the sadness and possible tragedy of a helium balloon loosely tied to an unconcerned wrist. There is fear there, too, perhaps fear of sadness.

The feeling of being let down.

Like the overwhelming urge to find a vessel to carry forward all your hopes and dreams, and the exasperation when no candidate stands up to the plate. Resulting in the frenzied feeling with which we align and control our lives in the absence of being able to align and control ourselves or the world around us.

And from that frenzy comes anxiety, a special kind: being anxious about being anxious.

We forget, perhaps, to stop and think, to feel, that one season has definitively ended. Another begun. Like lifting up the curtain of summer and finding autumn rehearsing in the wings. Something so beautiful, so melancholic, and above all, so reassuring in its predictability.

Is there a word for that?

It recalls another emotion without name: the overwhelming hope, sorrow, and complacency that this, too—as all things—shall pass.

At least we feel at all. From feeling comes knowledge.



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