A Chat With My Sensei, On Permission To Feel

. 3 min read

I have this person in my life I call my sensei. We're not very close and frankly I don't even know if you could call us "friends," but I find him wise and so I like to talk to him a few times a year. Oddly, I have many relationships like this. They're all with people who are at least 10 years older than me and cobblers of off-kilter careerpaths. Put simply, they have minds I admire. (And that is all. Lines, I've learned the hard way, are best to draw in the proverbial sand right from the start.)

So, anyway, my sensei. I met him the other day to catch up. I was doing pretty well, I thought. For the most part, I felt happy.

I felt happy.

We chit-chatted for a little bit when he said, "Something's off about you."

I hadn't told him a thing about what happened early August, but I guess I knew I wouldn't have to. I gave him his nickname for a reason, after all.

I bowed my head, lifted my hands up. He'd caught it quickly.

Here's the thing about minds like his that I find so fascinating, when I asked him how he knew, he mentioned inconspicuous things.

Yes, he touched on the obvious cues, referring to my body language (I was more tucked in and turned away than usual - protective), and the like.

But then he said other things. Like there were words I was using, words I wasn't using, and there was a way I was gesturing with my hands, holding my breath, pausing, growing quiet, verbally tip toeing around subjects like they were broken glass, etc.

I felt like I was talking to an old wise man, or maybe a magician.

In the end, his conclusion, because he always has a conclusion, is that I was emotionally heavy and quite muddled. That wasn't easy to hear, but in a way it felt good. He saw the truth.

I told him then that maybe I was at once happy and sad, happy because in many ways life is still (and always will be) so beautiful, and sad because... well, who isn't sad in such circumstances? And he thought that was possible. He also thought I was probably sadder than I knew and that, since society doesn't quite make space for displays of grief, I was pressuring myself to push it down even further, layering feelings on top that were getting all tangled.

Hook, line, and sinker.

I walked away from that glass of wine feeling as if I should've paid my sensei.

Since then I've listened to boatloads of sad music. And I've really curled up in the space between the notes, listened to the sighs turned to melodies. Shocker: it hurts. God, it hurts. And I've questioned that, my own hurt. I've wondered why I feel this way for someone I didn't even know for too, too long.

But then I think of my sensei and I consider that it's okay. Because it's how I feel. He got under my skin in a way only two other people in my entire life ever have. And why discount that? What is time anyway when compared to feeling? Why do we judge time as being the almighty barometer for legitimacy of emotion?

Oh, I can get heady. And that's okay, too.

This, writing and letting my mind loop through the clouds, this is how I cope. This is how I heal. And I don't have to hurry up the process. In fact, I don't believe I can hurry up the process. Not if I'm being true to myself.

What's so wrong with being a little melancholy? I've been asking myself this over and over. Society has deemed it an ugly thing, he's right. But the fact is that it's not. It's a bit heavy, like wearing a weighted vest on a windy day. But it's not the worst thing. It's a sign I'm living anyway, a sign I'm connected to myself, my heart, my soul. And a sign that I was connected to him at one point. Even if it was only one-sided. Which I don't think it was but I feel I should write that anyway. Maybe it was. Who knows. It doesn't really matter. The feelings still count.

As always, if you're feeling anything similar, my friend, my heart goes out to you. I'm here for you. We're in this together. Big hugs x