I’m reading the latest installment of Darynda Jones’ Charley Davidson series, which is so much fun. The books are getting better as they go along, which is awesome. My only real complaint is that I started the series when only the first three or four books were out, and I’ve had to read new installments one at a time instead of all at once (when Charlaine Harris was writing the Sookie Stackhouse books, I reread the whole series every year when the new one came out, which was awesome but no longer feasible with my schedule and my list of “to read” books, which is getting longer all the time). But I digress. Again. I know, if you only had a nickel for every time I do that, you’d have a pile of nickels. Got it.
Back to Seventh Grave and No Body, which has made me laugh out loud on several occasions, including the scene where Charley and her best friend are watching a birthing video on the Internet, which an onlooker mistakes for South American porn. I mean, really, I had no idea that one could discern the various ethnicities of porn to such a degree of granularity. And the little sayings at the top of the chapters always make me chuckle (my favorite for this book is “We are all searching for someone whose demons play well with ours.”). And who wouldn’t fall in love with a character who asks people whether they like their coffee the way she likes her Death Stars, “gigantic, on the Dark Side, and powerful”? To quote Darynda Jones some more, “Gawd, I love these characters!”
But now I’m really off the reservation and need to find my way home. Maybe I could get some help from Charley’s fiancé, the ultimate bad boys of whom I’ve written before. He has a map to the gates of Hell permanently tattooed on his arms. Might help. Might not, as I’m drifting even further afield. So, if you could read my emotions now, you would know that I’ve been very busy amusing myself, but now I’m anxious that I might have annoyed you, dear reader, and that my indulgence could cost me your good opinion of me (assuming you had one to begin with, although if you are taking the time to read my posts, that’s probably a good bet–wow, with those kinds of deductive skills, I could be a detective). The issue at hand is whether we would want our significant others to know what we are feeling. Like, all the time. In every situation. When I first read about Charley and Reyes’ ability to read each other’s emotions I was fairly appalled. I can’t imagine wanting my husband to be able to know me that clearly and completely. But then I started to pay a bit more attention at home and to reflect on the idea of what we hide from others and what we think we hide, but really don’t.
So, would we want our significant others, our friends and even strangers to be able to read our emotions like that? Again, I think not, in a big way. But, the question at hand is whether we actually fool ourselves into thinking our feelings are so well hidden to begin with. Personally, I’ve been told I wear my heart on my sleeve so much that I’ve got a permanent divot on my bicep. Apparently, I shouldn’t count on a lucrative career as a professional poker player either. It’s been said that when I school my face it resembled preschoolers playing in the sandbox, rather than a well disciplined organ of my iron-fisted control. So, for me, I’m already an open book. Just ask my husband, who seems to know me better than I know myself sometimes (not an inconsequential feat for someone as introspective and contemplative as I am). He often anticipates my thoughts and actions to an almost scary degree of accuracy. And here I was thinking I’d been clever in telling our children not to let Dad know I bought them the really expensive brand of football gloves when he specifically told me to get the cheaper ones. He can always read my pride in thinking myself clever and my guilt in disassembling. And he knows.
But what about those of us who pride ourselves on how close to the vest we play our cards? Those of us who delight in denying our companions and observers any insight into the inner workings of our minds or even an inkling of the true feelings of our hearts? I’ve written about these people too, as well as my utter delight in cracking the ice that obscures the churning waters beneath (http://truthinfantasy.com/blog/cold-as-ice). How would these paragons of cluelessness feel if everyone knew what they were feeling? I’m thinking “horrified” would be a good descriptive adjective to use here.
Having said that, though, I think the clues are there for those who care to look, even if we can’t be 100% accurate about what we are reading off of others. I think that in truth, everyone has “tells” if we know what to look for. A clench of the jaw, a flash of the eyes, movement of the Adam’s apple as someone swallows with surprise or some other deep emotion. I think none of us is as inscrutable as we think we are, although some people do elevate obfuscation to high levels.
So, maybe we are more like Charley and Reyes and know what others are feeling than it appeared at first glance. Maybe we just need to pay a bit more attention to becoming aware that there are teeming emotions all around us and respond accordingly, rather than becoming annoyed at the driver in front of us who didn’t start as quickly as we’d like or the person in line ahead of us who failed to get her money out of her wallet even though we’d been standing there forever. Because if you pay attention, you might notice that the other is roiling with emotions because they just lost a parent, or a job, or their minds over something that sent them over the edge.
Feeling others’ feelings can make us more empathetic people. Blocking, as Charley tries to do briefly and with hurtful consequences, results in making us less empathetic, less connected, less human. And, as often happens for me, it took a book about demons and angels, not to mention ghosts and other supernatural phenomena, to appreciate the reality of my more mundane world and existence.