Walking the dogs with my wife the other day, there was a woman standing under the trees by the lake talking to the ducks. Not talking to them as if they were ducks. Talking to them like reunited high school BFFs. Giggling and exploding with laughter as one of the mallards cracked a joke. Walking behind as the ducks maneuvered toward the lake and offering ideas for what to do with the rest of the day. In an unadulterated joyful fashion.
She was pure crazy.
As we walked by (me looking straight at the ground to avoid eye contact), my wife could sense my discomfort with the loon. She immediately commented how uncomfortable people are with expressions of joy. I offered that it’s not the joy that with which I was uncomfortable. It was the crazy.
But she was right. Because the woman was not exhibiting any kind of dangerous behavior. Just different behavior. Behavior that was openly and undauntedly expressive. Happy. Joyful. Giddy. Effusive.
And there’s something not acceptable about expressing ourselves beyond the bounds of moderation. Can’t laugh too loud in public. Certainly can’t cry in the presence of others. Anger is ugly and unbecoming. And on an on. Etc. Blah blah blah.
I don’t know exactly where I’m going with this, but it strikes me that I think I know how I am feeling throughout the day. If you were to ask me, I’d tell you straight up. I’m happy or sad or this or that. But how can I really know when I have such limited practice expressing any feeling. In the presence of somebody else. In front of an audience, per say. It’s like that dreaded feeling one gets in the audition. “Holy crap! There are people watching me!”
We only get better at anything with practice. And lots of it. But we don’t get a lot of practice with our feelings. What we are actually feeling or the expression of that feeling. And if we do manage to publicly (meaning in the presence of at least one other individual) exhibit what’s happening inside, we come off as crazy most of the time. And who the hell wants to be thought of as crazy? Crazy people get locked away or end up walking the streets of some city talking to invisible companions.
Perhaps this is why we are so attracted to performers. To the art of performance. At its best, it is pure expression. Which is to say it’s purely out there on the edge.