One of my so-called problems in life is that I am terrible at recognizing my own significant moments, be they of the simple-things-that-occur-in-everyday-life kind or the seriously-momentous-occasion kind. Things rarely feel ‘big’ to me. At least not in that movie-like way I’ve come expect where the shot focuses in and dramatic music plays to let you know you should pause on shoving chocolate-covered raisins into your mouth for this part and actually pay attention.
Hey life, where is my dramatic soundtrack? This is how I’ve learned to recognize significance in interpersonal relations, dammit!
Even when there IS a soundtrack and I’ve explicitly been told this is a Big Moment (like my own wedding) I still can’t quite do it to be honest. In those moments, I am drowning in my own synapses, too busy processing my surroundings and my baggage to focus on what the unidentifiable mess that is my feelings is trying to tell me. I’m basically the opposite of a person who wears their heart on their sleeve; I usually package mine up in twelve layers of burlap and leave it hidden under the bed.
Which I suppose is the problem – before a moment can feel big it has to feel, period.
My problem is sorting out that mess in the moment. Maybe it’s the scientist in me, but if I can’t accurately define, calculate or categorize something, I tend to ignore it. After all, it can’t possibly give me any information worth trusting right? But a bit of experience in research has taught me that you can usually get pretty damn close to the right answer with your prior knowledge, a bit of information about the current circumstances, and some educated guesses.
I’m beginning to realize the same is true for emotions. You don’t have to analyze every detail of that mess of emotions in the moment – doing so would swallow you whole – but chances are the fuzzy shape alone tells you something worth paying attention to.
All this is to say, this December has felt big. I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of quality time with friends and family – opportunities I’m beginning to realize are becoming fewer and farther between – and I’ve consciously let myself pay attention to those gut reactions a little more. I’ve noticed their presence and allowed them to stir the conversation. At times it felt overwhelming – like when my friends were talking about domestic violence and I had to step into the bathroom to breathe for a minute – but it meant I was emotionally present a lot more than I normally am. And that felt kind of big.