Jazz is Green

And hugs are baby blue.

written by the author

Ever wonder why we describe emotions as colorful?

For example, picture your ex walking away. I’m betting it’s raining — with grey and purple hues everywhere — amiright?

Now picture your first living memory; all the way back to the first thing you can recall. (…I’ll wait)

What color was that shape/sound/feeling/thing? Fast forward to today.

That’s one of your favorite colors now too, no?

The human brain is profoundly cool. It can dance before we hear music. It can smell forward and backward in time. People named Wozciechowski can spell their names IN F&*KING KINDERGARTEN. Also, Elon Musk exists.

You get the picture.

Now get this: you’re statistically much more likely to remember if I say I have a friend Dom who’s a baker than if I said I have a friend named Dom Baker.

That’s because Dom the baker smells like bread and has flour on his hands (with a bit of stubble and a funny hat on — right?).

So, you feel the word baker.

Meanwhile, Dom Baker is just some schmuck. It’s a phonetic sound, at best.

So, you forget the word Baker.

We’re constantly learning just how weird our brains are, but at this point we know enough to harness a few of its quirks more efficiently.

Here’s one. Being tired and being attentive are often virtually-indistinguishable cousins from one another (and it explains why falling asleep is only easy when we’re trying not to).

When things demand attention, we shut off and feel drained. But when our attention demands things, they pull us forward and make us energized.

Start finding things that not only pull you forward, but catapult you once they’re attained.

For me, those are: Tea. Nuts. Eggs. Hugs. Jazz. Thunderstorms. Being awake before anyone else. And, empathy.

But beware of false flags. Nothing is worse than thinking you’re helping yourself when you’re not. It makes you feel like you walked 500 miles just to fall and latch the door… then get punched in the gut.

( ♬ Dadda-dah-dah! dadda-dah-dah! ♬ )

So, yeah; avoid scams.

As a rule of thumb, if it feels scammy then assume it’s a scam. If you have to talk yourself into feeling differently about a person, place, idea or thing, then boom that’s another scam.

Some further examples of surprise gut-punchers include:

Red meat. Red bull. Red Dog. Marlboro Reds. Blue Lives Matter.

Rule of thumb: colorful emotions are healthy and one-dimensional (unicolor) emotion means scam.

That, right there, is my thesis: the more enjoyable your life, the more colorful emotions you feel. The less, the more single-colored your world.

Pretty much explains why newly awakened white supremacists are such miserable human beings. And they seem addicted to their rage, don’t they? Perhaps their pitchforks could be better seen as symbols of emotional immaturity.

And nothing is more dangerous than emotional immaturity.

A good day isn’t one spent smiling in the mirror for seventeen straight hours. You have to laugh, cry, cheer, scream, yearn, attain, jump and fall.

A great day is when you scrape your knee and drop the ring, but she says yes anyway; when you think you’re getting fired but it turns out it was a promotion; when I read texts from her and they confirm she’s as out of my league as she is clueless about this fact.

The brain is to your central nervous system as your heart is to your veins; connected, but sometimes they fight one another. We call those conditions “high blood pressure” or “anxiety,” depending on which type of specialist you see.

That’s why your gut doesn’t always agree with your other two decision-makers.

(Whichever other two things you thought I was referring to: yes)

It’s why your heart and hands don’t always reach out the same direction.

Instead, they’re yin and yang, protons and electrons, cats and dogs. You need one to love the other, but it’s awfully tempting to pick a favorite.

Now, I realize caring about these emotional truths is pretty high up on Maslow’s hierarchy, and I also realize they assume you benefit from normal biology.

(If you don’t, skip this — you already know the value of normal biology better’n anyone because nothing teaches value quite like losing something).

There are two ways to deal with feelings. The first way is the wrong way. We’ll call it the ‘manly’ way. This way requires you channel any unfamiliar feeling into anger and/or ego, then express it directly as such.

Put another way, it’s why grandpa gets shit-your-pants mad if you call him out for being racist. Emotions never (okay, rarely) lie.

The second way is the right way. We’ll call it the ‘meh, sure’ way. This way requires you simply feel whatever is in front of you… In its rawest form… Right in the moment.

I know. That’s a lot to ask. And that requires an unusual level of comfort around honesty.

But discomfort is the door that opens to comfort. Instead of playing whack-a-mole with your emotions, try playing the bongos. Anger makes bad music anyway (sorry, Slipknot).

Plants (universal symbols of emotions, by the way) need the right environment to flower; the right weather to bear fruit.

So do you.

You can find something you like about anything you don’t. That’s the first step forward.

If we wish to change something that currently sucks, try leaning in with open ears before running away angry — that always works best.

And while you’re at it, when something feels awesome don’t pretend it lasts forever and DO NOT try to make it.

Better to replace pleasures that could kill you with pleasures that cannot. So, once you’ve arrived, take the damn off-ramp.

There’s no way to avoid emotion(s), only to avoid discussing the topic (or to pretend you don’t feel any). Dealing with emotion represents a choice — will you cater to your best instincts or your loudest ones? — so I’m writing this today to appeal to your better, wiser side.

Don’t fall in the trap of happiness. Happiness is a diamond we can’t afford. A kingdom you’ll never rule.

Instead of shooting for the high score, for now just try and get on the board in every (emotional) category more often. Instead of the trying to be the angriest, toughest, loudest or meanest, try to be the most well-rounded.

Seek a diversity of feelings and experiences and do stuff merely because it’s unfamiliar; no, especially because it’s unfamiliar.

Most importantly: whatever you are, be a lot of it.

Cry harder. Giggle-sprint more. Lean into nerves but out of anxiety. Stay on the horse. Release from the rope swing at the top of the jump (then block your jewels for the whiplash).

Water always feels cold at first. But most of the time, you’re only getting used to it. Eventually the water will feel amazing against your skin, trust me. Especially in this weather.

The colorful randomness and musical beauty of our lives is there for the noticing, if we want to notice it. It’s responsible for all the symmetry you feel and all the divinity you hope for.

Birds sing. Wind howls. Humans talk. Dogs love. Writers write.

It’s jazz. Don’t you see?