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What if you let it all go?

There was this little kid screaming on my flight last night. Screaming and crying. Pissed that he was cramped and stuck in a tiny space with not enough room to stretch-out and cuddle with his blanket. (Okay, okay… I filled in the blanks about his psychological state… the point is: the kid was crying). He’s just expressing what all of us are feeling, I thought as I felt my knees rub against the seat in front of me. And this thought has stuck with me.

Maybe being a grown-up—being quiet, contained, polite, introverted—is exactly what’s messing us all up. Children bounce back, fast and easy—a little sleep, a sip of milk, a good cry and a hug later, they feel all better. But us? The grown-up us? We hold on to pain for days, weeks, decades.

Some philosophers believe that we are born enlightened and devolve as we age. Taken as true, what if we did as the children do and expressed everything? Even when it’s non-rational, fatigue induced, “childish”?

I did a spiritual retreat in Fiji a couple of years ago and the Guides suggested this very thing—they suggested to never let a day go by without expressing (even the tiniest bit of) suffering. They told us the story of a former student; a mother of a four-year-old boy. One day the little boy came to his mother in tears because his friend had taken his ball and wouldn’t return it. He sobbed telling his mother how he felt— how violated, angry, hurt, disappointed. His mother interrupted, firmly coaching him with big-kid logic. After a few minutes, the boy cut his mother off and cried “Mom! Can’t you see I’m suffering??”

Maybe children are born enlightened.

I think often of this little boy… combined with my personal understanding of the catharsis of emotional expression. I think about living through my own mini-nightmares—my break-up with M, my mom and dad’s divorce. The suffering itself wasn’t the most bitter bit—the suffering alone was. The feeling that I was the only person in the world that could possibly understand or contain such anguish.

I realize that taken seriously, unfiltered expression of emotion would truly be an insane philosophy… I mean think of it: plane, train, barista, attorney, mother-in-law… they’d all share their woes. And (oh my god) actually honestly answer the question, How are you today?

But what about as a general idea? What if we never went to sleep without processing the hurts of the day? Could each morning truly be a brand new day? And surely it’s not practical (or comfortable) to share with just anyone or just anytime. But what about with a select trusted friend, or in the comfort of your alone, or with your Divine? And what if you could choose the place and the convenient time of day?

What if you could really Let. It. All. Go?

I like to think of emotion like a liquid substance. It pools, it flows, it builds, quickly hardens, slowly softens. Like molten lava and coarse stone. And just like lava, the key with emotion it to keep it moving (through you). I wager it’s those of us that bite our lip too hard, too long, or too often and are disabled by painful emotions.


As children illustrate—we’re really not so different, emotionally. We all need to give and receive love, to feel significant, to feel connected. It’s possible that authentic expression—through it human connection— cures all. Or at least that’s what the crying (read, enlightened) children teach us.

Filed in expression, emotion feelings children emotional silent Fiji