I flew home from California on Monday, and arrived to my house around 9:30pm. Gibbs was waiting eagerly and almost spinning in circles with his tail wagging shenanigans! KukKuk quickly appeared and we snuggled on the couch, greeting one another with warm kisses and purrs. Before long Gibbs decided he needed to go out, and usually his night time walk when it’s cold consists of crossing the road, peeing on the snow bank by the parking lot, standing in the middle of the road until I turn around, and running back to the house. So we stepped outside, me with no coat on presuming it would be a short walk, and crossed the road. He ran into the parking lot, looked at me, waited for me to catch up, and took off running again. He led me to the main road, across the crossing and into the college campus. We were really going for a walk! And the cute thing was that he would run ahead, turn around with a big smile on his face, wag his tail, run almost back to me, turn around again and set off running once more. His excitement at seeing me home turned into a running, dancing, joy-filled walk! We did this dance for over a mile before we reached home and fell into bed, exhausted by the day!
His behavior reminded me of a time some 20 years ago when my niece (M) was probably 4 or so. I had not seen her or her sister (E) in a while as I was in the US and they were in England. But I was visiting for a week and set a time to go see them. Their mom needed to run an errand, so set me the task of walking the E to go get her sister from school. We were picking her up early so we could spend time together. It had been about 9 months since I had seen them, and I did not know if she would remember me. E and I set off to the school hand in hand. We walked into the classroom and M jumped out of her chair and ran to get her things. She didn’t really acknowledge me, hug me or say hello. Then we left and began our walk back to their house. The whole way M was laughing and giggling, skipping ahead, turning around, running back, laughing some more. She was so happy to see me, and wanted to ensure I was still there, following her!
It made me sad to think about, as I tried to remember the last time I had greeted someone with such inhibition. When had I last shown this much excitement and love and unbridled joy? The dance and laugh and turning around to make sure the person was still there, unrestrained delight that comes out of every pore? Is it really only dogs and children who are this free?
Somehow self-consciousness sets in; maybe we are ridiculed for such a display of affection, maybe we look around us and see other people’s joy dampened down. Maybe, in telling us to control our emotions perceived as negative, we learn that expression of any emotion in too big a way is bad, childish, unnecessary. Whatever happens, something inside us tells us it is wrong. And how sad is that?!
Next time you feel an emotion that is full of joy, I invite you to show it in some way! Maybe with a little jump, or a giggle allowed to escape, or a turning around in delight. See how it feels inside to set it free! And remind yourself that all emotions are ok, none is wrong. Express your grief, your happiness, your pain, your love, and yes, even your anger. Express them in ways that allow them to be. Express them in ways that maybe you only see if you are shy. Express them, certainly, in ways that cause no harm. But it’s time for us to allow our emotions and feelings the space they need, for this is a space where healing and hope begin to enter.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.