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Mpls, MN, United States

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Thursday, November 13, 2008


I've been thinking recently about the way emotions feel, physically.

There are the fairly standard ones: stress like a metal band around the head, anger or tension coiling in the jaw. Sometimes there's just pain, or angst, systemic and unlocatable, that contracts the body into a fetal position.

Earlier this week, as I was lying in bed, memories kept hitting me, each one like a heavy canister falling off a shelf above my bed, bluntly striking me in a series of thuds.

Later in the week, I saw someone's photo of Italy, and although I'd never been to that particular location, the sense of longing was like having something pulled from behind my ribs by a hook, just below my sternum.

The mental processes are often inseparable from the physical effects, which is why, although we can't remember physical pain the way we can emotional pain, I also wonder about the kind of physical damage the latter might do, hanging around. Thankfully, it works both ways: the euphoric highs I've had from running are my own favorite example.

And how do I describe that feeling? I've used words like giddiness and euphoria, but I find it harder to put into words that physical sensation than the ones I discussed earlier. It's distinctly nonverbal. It's light and power and weightlessness--the antithesis, I suppose, of a dull ache. It's good chemicals, and the way to outrun the crazies.


K L said...

Ceri, I am addicted to endorphins too.

Odd that humans seem to remember lessons better where physical pain is involved than where emotional pain occurs. It would seem reasonable to assume we would avoid emotional damage as much or more than physical.

Ern said...

Someday, I'd like to get the runner's high. I don't think I ever have.