The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this:
A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive.
To him… a touch is a blow,
a sound is a noise,
a misfortune is a tragedy,
a joy is an ecstasy,
a friend is a lover,
a lover is a god,
and failure is death.
Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – – – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.
Pearl S. Buck
This quote from Pearl S. Buck is one of my favourite descriptions of the emotional sensitivity I experience in my life and that I witness in my kids.
My children astound me with their emotional responses.
- One son cried in his sleep for 6 months after a fish died in his classroom aquarium.
- One son fretted for days because characters in a picture book were cruel to another character.
- Small consequences for minor rule infractions lead to massive melt-downs and shame spirals.
- A drawing that doesn’t show what the artist intended gets torn up, and before resuming the project, the artist rages through the house slamming doors and knocking down furniture.
- Hugs are so intense that they knock the recipient down.
- The vagaries of playground friendships become epic betrayals and melodramatic reunions.
- A sunset stops us all in our paths as we gaze in silence together.
- A pine cone becomes a beloved friend.
- A favourite book is read and re-read and re-read; the cover falls off and we buy a new copy.
- We weep when Dumbledore and Charlotte and Eponine die.
- We laugh so hard we miss the next three jokes.
- We cry over lyrics and are stopped short by poetry.
- Music invades our bodies and forces us to dance.
- We love hard, falling fast and deep, breaking inconsolably, and recover to do it again.
- Our hearts break and rejoice with the pain and joys of others, friends and strangers alike.
We are emotional sensitivities walking this earth in physical bodies. Finely tuned receivers, we resonate with the frequencies of the world, amplifying sorrow and joy as they pass through us.
If we defend ourselves from the pain, we shut off our capacity for happiness. We must learn to accept that the price of being capable of feeling such joy is that we must also feel the deepest sorrows.
And what tools do we have to manage these extreme emotions?
To my children, I offer a willingness to feel to the depth of my being and the depth of theirs, to let it be acceptable to feel. I offer them my experience, compassion and empathy, a large collection of art supplies, music and drama lessons, and hugs.
Lots and lots of hugs.