Monday, February 19, 2024

The Case For Crying at Work

Being sentimental is a personality trait that doesn’t get a lot of sympathy in our current society. There seems to be a baseline of sympathy for introverts and maybe even special accommodations made for them. Theres a whole Netflix show romanticizing the love lives of partnered people, both with Down Syndrome. It’s not a joke. it’s meant entirely sincerely (?). But the imaginary list of commonly coddled non-neurotypicals does not have sentimental people in the top 100. 

In fact, when sentimental people are usually shown, they are the butt of the joke. The circus clown. Hoarders is a televised pillory of an overly sentimental person. It’s actually super messed up. It shows prized possessions being yanked away from a person and that person’s pain in seeing it leave. The endings of that show is usually a stern talk with the hoarder to change their ways or maybe even initiate a big-pharma intervention (yuck).

I am a very sentimental person. Thank God I’m not a hoarder in the same way as the people on that show. My thing is, rather than collect material things, I collect my feelings in each of their unique moments. Some might call them memories but that makes them seem like they were filmed in ultra HD. The video component of the memory gets very blurry or even altered but the feeling connected to it remains fresh so I call them feelings. I collect the overwhelming complexity of each moment and how each moment is a product of the past and a stepping stone to the future and all as precious as Gollum’s ring.
But everyone knows that bad feelings are often more potent than good feelings. So you end up with a nicely curated set of bad feelings on the homepage of your brain-based memory-Netflix under the label of “recently watched”.

And that sucks. 

Recalling those bad feelings makes the current day cloudy and gloomy. Even understanding that built-in chafing, they are too precious to discard. 

Like I said, there is not a lot of sympathy for someone overcome in the current moment with the weight of past feelings. “Snap out of it” might be the response. Or “get with the program”. Instead of feeling the feelings in the moment, some people thing the socially correct thing to do is to bottle it up until a tender movie moment or a live concert and then break down. Or exfiltrate from a public space to an entirely private one like a bathroom stall or their car. Out of sight from others.

Because that’s the thing about hoarding feelings versus hoarding material things.  Its invisible. We can plausibly pretend we just don’t have any. A hoarder of material things can’t hide it. *Someone* will eventually walk in their door and send up the bat signal for an intervention. 
I’m not unique. A whole lot of people are hoarding a whole lot of feelings and no one even knows. If we could see each others hoard-houses of feelings, there would be a lot of “you too?!”s. 

We need to be more accepting of this public displays of sentimentality (PDS). It’s ok to want to hold on to and even re-live old feelings even if they are counterproductive to one’s current self. We dont need to yank those feelings out of our brain or bottle them. We just need to cope however we best cope.
There are a few who truly don’t care about the past or future, who are entirely *entirely* in the moment and are entirely un-sentimental. But not many. I hope we can all find comfort in each others chronic mental aches and give ourselves a little peace. 

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