Monday, September 08, 2014

Emotional Investment

I recall reading in one of my 3 hour breaks between lectures back in the day, one of those books with pictures of animals and affirmations and shit, light on the words.

Anyway there was a picture of a frog and a platitude like 'the human heart has infinite capacity to love' and I remember it re-framing emotions as a resource.

Like there's certain abstract concepts, like time, time is the most limited resource anybody possesses. Conversely apparantly, emotions, like love are inexhaustible. It was a comforting thought, now I'm not so sure.

I think there's a fundamental truth there, somewhere. Like your capacity for love never diminishes. You got this indestructible energy. I think physics would back that shit up.

Upon reflection though, I think our emotional capacity is elastic. Maybe having kids changes shit, you unlock some extra capacity that applies to them in a way outside of ordinary social experience, I'm not qualified to say, but I assume just about anyone reading this would have experienced at some point that state of tension that comes from losing some emotional investment you've made.

The sense that you are walking on egg-shells, or trying to execute some complex manouvre like destroying the death star. Your heart is on the line, your very being. It preoccupies and consumes your thoughts as your run over the plays and possibilities in your head. If you can just salvage that friendship, or get somebody to realize they truly love you...

In my experience from adult life, what I feared losing, was unloseable. Most of these high-tension scenarios were resolved by acceptance, simply accepting the person, the situation, whatever. And like that, it becomes incredibly hard to recall what or how you'd actually lose the investment emotionally. My emotions just snap back into shape.

They are restricted and finite perhaps only because they can be directed by time and energy. The times where I've felt at risk of losing an emotional investment have actually been when that time and energy was disproportionately invested somewhere where I wasn't getting emotions back. Once accepted, bang, I find myself enjoying life more.

The tricky part is that on paper acceptance looks a lot like giving up. But accepting I've read, and it feels right, is an affirmative act. That is you actually have to do it, where giving up (which in the context of running, I've had the occasional experience with) is where you literally just stop exerting effort or will.

It's been too long since I've experienced heart break to really reflect on what that's like, but I don't think heartbreak is acceptance, I suspect it is more like the catastrophic failure of the denial coping mechanism. Some emotional exercise akin to trying to run at the corners of a Necker cube. It's kind of maybe where you want to run but can't, you can't bend reality to your will. But acceptance I can recall feels not like heartbreak, it feels like shit is leaving your system (probably literally a heap of cortisol).

Anyway, the curious conundrum is, how motivating a percieved emotional investment can be, how much work we are willing to do to not lose what we have invested in someone or something. Yet it prolongs often in my own experience a substandard of living, and when that investment is relinquished I always find I have much more of what I feared to lose.

Know what I'm sayin'?

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