24: Our finest impulses.

- March 26, 2017 -

I’ve found myself returning to a quote of Henry Miller’s for some time now, keeping it pinned to my desktop for those harried moments in which I need a reminder about what it is that I am working to achieve.

“Every day we slaughter our finest impulses,” he writes. “That is why we get a heart-ache when we read those lines written by the hand of a master and recognize them as our own, as the tender shoots which we stifled because we lacked the faith to believe in our own powers, our own criterion of truth and beauty.”

Although he’s primarily speaking about our tendency towards second-guessing our creative abilities, I’ve been wondering if perhaps one might also apply this idea of his to the way in which we more broadly interact with the world.

. . .

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about the extent to which we allow ourselves — or, rather, don’t allow ourselves — to feel our feelings, to notice and experience our emotions. (Or, in other words, our “impulses.”)

How often is it that we allow our feelings to take up a bit of space in our lives? How often will we allow ourselves to simply sit with those feelings, free from distraction or dampening of any kind, and permit them to move through us wholly unencumbered?

Similarly, what about the situations in which we find ourselves experiencing a moment of boredom? How often will we allow ourselves to be bored, to feel comfortable in our boredom without needing to find something to which we can attach our attention?

Not very often, it seems to me.

. . .

Instead, upon experiencing either too much or too little of a particular feeling, we’re quick to seek resolution by turning to our digital distraction of choice: a scroll through social media, a longer-than-intended Netflix binge, a dive into the hidden possibilities of new, unopened tabs.

Although these temporary diversions seem harmless enough in the moment, I can’t help but feel as though we are doing ourselves a great disservice by living in such a constant state of distraction. We are actively displacing “our finest impulses,” and, too often, after all of the tabs have been closed and all of the feeds have been refreshed, we are left with very little to show for having done so.


With feeling,
– J


This piece comes from Jana Marie’s newsletter, The Sunday Letters. You can sign up to receive future editions below.