Emotions -- this time of year is heavy with emotions.
Graduations, culminations, endings, transitions, growing and changing.
I get emotional from far less important events than the end-of-the-year big events.
For example, today, my children’s camp tags for their duffle bags arrived. I got so incredibly emotional just seeing my oldest daughter’s tags. Her tags are a different color than her sisters’ tags.
The color of her tags signifies that she is in her last year of being a camper at our sleep away camp. Her group, the oldest group, sleeps in a different designated area in the camp. Therefore, the tags that they have are different than the ones she had for the past few years.
When I opened the envelope from camp and saw my three children’s tags, my eyes filled with tears. I could feel a wave of emotion coming from my heart. How can this be the last summer my oldest daughter is a camper?
If you talk to my children, they will say that bubblegum can make me emotional. They see it and I will readily admit that I am an emotional human and my emotions can be strong, raw, and out there.
I have learned that what comes easily to me, sometimes too easily, is actually an incredible privilege. The privilege of emotion. To be able to be moved, to be able to cry, to get excited, to show how I feel and simply to wear my heart on my sleeve is, yes, a privilege.
For so many years of my life I actually saw this as a huge disadvantage. In many situations, I wished I had the capacity to be less emotional, not to show my tears, not to get upset. As the years went by, I learned that strength is actually in our capacity to show emotion.
But never did I really understand the privilege and the freedom I have to be emotional. I’ve taken for granted the situations that have allowed me to be moved, that have exposed me to a range of emotions that have shaped who I am.
And while I wish that perhaps I had a little bit more control of my emotions, I realize how lucky I am that I’ve had so many opportunities in my life to be emotional. How fortunate I am that I’ve had the space, the time, and place to have those emotions.
I recently took a group of my students to the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. The Advot Project, Homeboy Industries, and The Wallis had the great fortune of receiving funding for a joint project from the California Arts Council.
The Advot Project is also a community partner of The Wallis’ phenomenal community partners program. This is a program that allows nonprofit organizations to sign up for and get free tickets to see performances. This is an incredible way to bring people, who otherwise would never be able to see theater, to come and experience their shows. There are no words that can express my gratitude for this incredible initiative. The community partners program is deep and meaningful. It is thought through and truly exceptional. Through this partnership I have met other nonprofit leaders. I have had opportunities to meet artists and, most importantly, I have had the great, great privilege and satisfaction of bringing my students to see world-class dance, music and theater productions.
This is exactly what a community should look like, a place where quality art is accessible to all.
When we were sitting in class after our trip to the theater, we were talking about my students’ impressions of Beverly Hills and the theater itself.
On our tour of the theater, on the main stage was the set from a production called “Hershey Felder, A Paris Love Story.” This is a one-man show featuring the music of Claude Debussy. It has a simple set, but it is impressive.
One of the women in my group told me that the set in the theater made her emotional.
“I don’t know how to say it, Ms., but there was something so beautiful about that bridge and the piano and the one bench with the scarf on it. It’s like someone had just been there and might come back. It made me emotional to be in that big space and think about the music they play there.”
I rarely have nothing to say, but I was absolutely stunned by the detail that she remembered that had been on the stage. I looked at her and smiled. “You know,” she continued, “I was thinking about what the man told us.” (The man she was talking about is the marvelous director of education, who made my Homies feel welcome and at home that day.) “He told us that on that big ass stage only one man performs, but there’s a whole bunch of people making that happen. And then there’s a whole bunch of people sitting in the big theater watching him. That’s some crazy shit, all these people making the show happen. You know, supporting the art. “
I actually had to lean in to be closer to her physically to take in what she was saying to me.
“Theater is beautiful, Ms. Just standing there made me emotional.”
Then she added, “It is weird being emotional about shit like this, and not someone being killed or getting locked up. I want to see me a musical. Theater is where it is at!” And then she finished by saying, “I can’t believe that building used to be a post office, Ms. Damn! Even the letters get special treatment in Beverly Hills, huh?”
I gave her a hug, because, honestly, I didn’t know what else to do.
I have had the privilege of being moved by art since I was a little girl.
I have sat in my seat after shows weeping from the impact they had on me.
This past Fall, my children wanted the earth to swallow them up when right during the first song of a show, tears were streaming down my cheeks.
“Ms., It’s nice to be emotional about things that you didn’t do wrong.”
I had to think about this.
“Yes, it is,” I said, letting the depth of what she said sink in.
“It made me feel sad and then good afterwards,” she said.
“That is called a catharsis,” I tell her.
“I don’t really care what it’s called,” she says. “But now, Ms. I get what you been saying that emotion is good. I get it. Really, I do. You think you can take me to one of those shows, so we can be emotional?”
“Yes, I can,” I tell her.
Yes, I can!
I find myself getting a little emotional thinking of the privilege of emotion.
The privilege of art.
The privilege of having a place to be emotional about art.
But most of all, I am emotional because I have the privilege to witness my students grow, learn, and become the best possible version of themselves.