Today, I saw on Facebook that it was a friend’s birthday. The unfortunate thing was that she is dead and realising that, I felt… dirty.
Today, I finished reading a book and it left me feeling scared and guilty. It is just a piece of fiction.
Both events triggered a realisation in me that no matter how we, humans, want to think that we have control of our emotions, or that we have Emotional Intelligence (or we can measure our Emotional Quotient), I doubt we really do. I obviously faced both emotions, rationalised them for what they were and moved on, but I still felt those emotions. How I dealt with them is another matter altogether.
Why do we react emotionally? Even if we don’t show them outwardly, we inevitably do. People who are ‘colder’ than others just have better physical control, but it does not mean that they are actually void of emotions. They’re just better at not showing them.
These reactions are likely to be pre-programmed from our upbringing, education, from what society deems is ‘right’. There is a death, you must feel scared. You shouldn’t be happy, and you shouldn’t make fun of it. Having these ideas programmed in me, when I saw on Facebook that it was a dead friend’s birthday, I went from happy (hey, it’s somebody’s birthday), to sad (oh no, she’s not around anymore), to dirty (I’m feeling all these things from a stupid social media site).
However, the second event, of finishing reading China Mieville’s The City & The City, made me realise how easily human emotions could be manipulated. The book is set in an impossible world and the ideas in the book are completely absurd, if you don’t think too deeply about it. But still, once you’ve surrendered yourself to the world that the book offers, you become part of it. The story references a book of the same title that is suppressed by law. Finishing the novel, it felt as if I had just finished reading THE book, and it made me feel scared and guilty (for being in Breach – those of you who’ve read the book would know what I’m talking about). The feeling didn’t last long, but for an author to be able to invoke such strong emotions, I think that China Mieville is a wordsmith of sorts.
Though today’s experiences have taught me that I am a slave of emotions, it also made me realise that I CAN still control how they are shown and rationalised. This control is what is important in humans, to help us maintain a ‘liveable’ society.
As a writer, today’s experiences have taught me that emotions should be in the forefront of all my writing. For it is emotions that would leave an impression on the reader and it is that impression that would stay with them, if I’m lucky. Words only trigger imaginations, which in turn triggers emotions. Some words get remembered, but the effects and experience a story leaves a reader is way more important.
“I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray