Embodying Emotional Power

A few days ago, just as a I was heading out the door for a meeting at the bank, it occurred to me I’d need a 2nd form of identification, so I ran upstairs to dig into my closet and grab my passport.

I have 3 cloth bags from various shops in Bali, hanging on one wooden hanger, that are loaded with travel paraphernalia. One holds the many different, multi-pronged chargers I need for my phone and computer. Another holds several decorative change purses, bought in Italy, Bali and Colombia, that’re full of left over Euros, AUD, Rupiah, Pesos and Pounds (totalling around $50). And the 3rd bag contains my passports, along with some random cables and plugs.

I’m never sure which bag holds what, so I end up taking them all out of the closet, spilling the contents onto the floor and then finding what I need. It’s not an efficient system, but I haven’t had a permanent home in over 5 years, so it’s a nomadic system, easy to pack.

If you were to ask me what’s my most precious possession, I’d answer without hesitation, my passport. It’s my key to a big life.

It promises hot summer nights in Barcelona, brisk bike rides in Copenhagen, endless flat whites in Melbourne, laughter on a park bench in Berlin, mystical connections in Ireland, arepa and Cumbia in Colombia, giggles and kisses in Bali. It carries the smell of fresh bread, the sound of clinking glasses and the music of laughter in every language. My passport holds hundreds of stamps, and my heart, thousands of snapshots of bodies moving, people loving, sunsets going down.

When I looked down at my travel gear, spread out across my bedroom floor, and found my passport, I wasn’t prepared for the grief that seized me.

This pandemic has put so many of our dreams on hold. Some of them have been completely cancelled, and it’s been tricky to imagine a future opening freely before us. While I’ve been awed by our collective ingenuity, courage and resilience, the loss, heartbreak and fear have also been present. And they, too, need to breathe and flow. They’re part of this time and of us.

But, why in the world would we want to give space to these intense and raw emotions? They’re too much. They feel dangerous. Well, simply put, because they’re part of being human. They’re part of you. It takes effort to deny them, when they’re there. But when they’re flowing in a healthy, potent way, they connect us to a richer life:

  • Grief opens our hearts and lets us see each other’s hearts.
  • Rage moves us to right injustices.
  • Shame reminds us of our collective humanity.
  • Fear keeps us alert and making good choices.

As I held that small, blue booklet in my hand –  the passport that used to take me almost anywhere in the world – an ocean of grief opened up and began to pour out. All I could do was give in. It’s what my heart and body needed.

It would take more than just this one moment to let it all flow through. It had been building for a while. But now that I’ve touched it, my entire body feels softer. And the new connections I’m making and the reunions that await, feel that much more precious.

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