That feeling you get when someone closely teaches you something

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My daughter loves coloring. She draws and colors on any paper she can get her hands on, from clean white pages screaming to be filled with imagination to those black-outlines only figures that help kids stay within lines. She loves all of it.

Her motor skills are skyrocketing as a result, holding a pen might not have been a skill our ancestors needed but it’s a great tool for brain development. Coloring the edges of a page is still hard for her, so she resorts to asking for my help.

While I explained how she could manage to do it more easily (coloring along the edge with long strokes rather than against it with short ones), I realized she might be feeling that strange emotion I’ve felt many times: the feeling of being taught something by someone who loves you.

That’s a feeling I find hard to describe but that I remember vividly. I treasured it whenever it happened as it was as fleeting as it was rare. The sensation I got when a close friend was looking over my shoulder and explaining something as carefully as possible, or when a family member held my hands to show me how to achieve mastery over an obstacle.

That’s the feeling directors try to recreate in movies when a woman looks over her shoulder to her lover explaining how to properly use a bow and shoot a straight arrow. It’s a close-up of shiny eyes and a fluttering heart.

Trying to recall the last time I felt this emotion I realized I can’t. I don’t have a specific memory of it, just a mumble jumble of memories tied together with how this thing I’m trying to describe feels like.

The pressure in my chest, the over-sensitivity and the strong awareness that something special and rare was happening, that my mind was somehow reacting differently to this particular moment. That’s how it feels when someone you love is teaching you something.

Helping my little artist with her drawing made me realize I haven’t felt that emotion in years, and that makes me sad. Do we grow out of feeling things? Are certain emotions only possible when we’re young, or do we change our circumstances so much that they become even rarer? Maybe that strange, fleeing emotion of lovingly being imparted knowledge is a reaction of our young brains to moments of close connection with someone.

I always wonder, what’s out there? Or more accurately, what’s inside? What hidden emotions await us if only we were brave, wise and childish enough? How much do we forget and how much of our adulthood anxiety comes from craving something we once loved but can’t quite remember?

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November 23rd, 2019
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