This summer, I went to the Royal Gorge with my dad. Now, when visiting the Royal Gorge, in order to get from one side of the canyon to the other, you have to travel in this very precarious-looking tram across the gaping gash in the Earth’s skin. Only one relatively thin cable held us above this gigantic valley, and all I could think about was how hanging precariously in this rectangular box, flirting with death, was like how it felt to look at the range of emotional possibilities, and consider engaging with them.
I realized a couple of days ago that people are very good at expressing emotions, but only when they’re experiencing one emotion at a time. Obviously, it’s much easier to express how you feel when there’s a concrete English word in the dictionary to package that feeling into. In fact, most people wait to say how they feel until they cross that canyon of uncertainty into a realm of absolute emotional clarity. People don’t say, “I’m incredibly angry, but also, at the same time, hopeful and happy.” There aren’t moments of expression in the times when emotions are undefined, and instead people hesitate until they can pick an emotion and commit to it. You have to figure out how you feel for sure before anyone hears anything about it. But, the more I think about it, that might not be the most present way to experience life. The in-between feelings are the most poignant moments, the most formative moments, the ones that don’t fit into a perfectly descriptive adjective.
In-between moments are like when you’re about to leave the state and town you've lived in for a long time, and being sad that you’re no longer living at home and a kid, but not wanting to stay either. The feeling isn’t bittersweet; it’s something deeper, more catalytic. It’s being happy that one of your best friends is achieving good things and doing what’s healthy for her, but yet being incredibly sad because it means you won’t see her every day. It’s the feeling of knowing you could slip very easily from your carefully constructed ledge of logic and sensibility into love, but holding yourself back and simply peeking over the edge into the abyss. It’s being so angry that every cell in your body is shaking, yet still understanding and trying to sympathize. It’s being able to simultaneously be filled with desperate loneliness and aching, yet still being able to reach out in worship week after week after week. It’s trying to stay strong, but feeling the edges of your very being start to crumble and fall away as the waves of fear lap at your toes. It’s letting yourself forgive and prying open the steel doors of your heart while being very aware of the enemy lurking just out of sight around the corner. It’s peering between the slats in the bottom of the bridge above the towering canyon, looking into the river of crazy and beautiful and painful and sometimes impossible emotions, and wondering… what if I just… jumped?